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Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

Northwestern State University's 
Annual Literary and Art Publication 





Assistant Editor 


Design Editor 


Editorial Board and Contest Coordinator 


Editorial Board 


Editorial Board 


Editorial Board 


Editorial Board 


Editorial Board 


Editorial Board 



We want to begin by thanking everyone who submitted this 
year. Whether or not your names appear in this book, you are 
the lifeblood of the Argus and without your contributions, we 
could not continue to provide Northwestern with a literary 
magazine. We are privileged to showcase your lives, your writ- 
ing, and your art. 

We owe a huge depth of gratitude to Dr. Julie Kane who has 
supported the Argus for many years and has provided her tal- 
ent, enthusiasm, and her guidance to this staff and each staff 
before me. 

We would also like to thank Dr. Abney and the Department 
of Language and Communication and Dr. Chandler and the 
Department of Fine and Graphic Arts. We appreciate their 
consistent support and encouragement. 

To our judges for offering their time and their perspectives; 
Gary Hardamon for lending his talent and time every year; 
Bobbie Jackson, Peggy Cedars, and Ada Hippler for helping 
us get through the sticky stuff and handing out the office key 
ten thousand times. 

To those professors, Dr. Colavito and Dr. Pritts, who have kept 
close ties to the Argus each year and have aided in any way 
necessary to keep the magazine afloat. 

And to everyone who reads this, thank you for picking up the 
Argus and taking an interest in the hard work and creative tal- 
ent of your fellow students at Northwestern State University. 



When Larrie presented his theme Ideas to the staff, there was 
unanimous excitement over this, our nameless Argus. The 
design was unique and, I admit, I thought: the untitled thing 
worked for Led Zeppelin, why not us? 

The book has a mystery to it, being untitled. In many cultures 
a person does not receive their true name until they have 
come into some sort of being. This book is a reflection of the 
time just before that name is given (a little cheesy, I know). 
This year's Argus is not about being, it is about becoming. 

The works in this year's Argus reflect that sense of moving 
toward something, or moving away from something else. 
Movement, that is what best describes it. Each piece is 
moving and growing into some direction, and becoming a 
renewed idea of self, life, and the world around. 

I could not have grown as an editor without the help of many 
people: Larrie, for his brilliant insight and dedication to the 
Argus; Chandler, for tirelessly staying beside me to finish the 
Argus and caring so much about releasing a well-done maga- 
zine; Savanna, for taking on the extra work and helping with 
the contest coordination; Corey, Teranda, Katie, Blade, Marli, 
and Mary Beth for all of their time and effort spent to make 
this magazine. 

I'd also like to thank the past editors who gave me advice and 
support. Angelin Borsics, whom I had the pleasure of meet- 
ing in New York City, and who graciously took time from her 
busy schedule to help us out; Monica Gremillion, who offered 
her telephone number and advice when I got stuck; April 
Dickson-Braun, who sat around endless hours discussing the 
Argus, offering help, and who gave me the extra push I need- 
ed to apply for this position. 



I fell in love with Argus years ago when Angelin Adams was 
the editor. She told me to submit some of my work, but I was 
nervous and unsure. A few years later, Monica Gremillion, a 
close friend of mine, became the editor and I abandoned all 
nervousness. I was given the opportunity to be the illustra- 
tor of that edition, and have submitted much of my work to 
Argus since. Argus has given me the opportunity to showcase 
my work, and I am glad that as assistant editor, I am now 
given the opportunity to showcase works of students gifted 
in poetry, art, photography, fiction, and nonfiction. Andi, the 
staff, and I have tirelessly read hundreds of submissions, and I 
believe the work published in this edition displays the talent of 

these individuals. 

I take great pride in this year's edition. I not only take pride 
in the content, but also the design and theme. No matter who 
might be flipping through this year's edition, they will be able 
to connect with this year's theme, growth. The tree obviously 
symbolizes growth, but Andi and I also wanted to arrange 
the poetry to fit the theme as well. We believe that the ar- 
rangement of the pieces is cohesive, and works well with the 


I hate that this is my last year working with Argus, but 
as most great things in life, it has to end at some point. I am 
grateful to Angelin for introducing me to the Argus, and Moni- 
ca for pushing me to submit. Also, a big thank you goes out to 
Andi. Thanks for choosing me to be your assistant editor and 
putting up with my craziness. I know all of your blood, sweat, 
and tin (as Sharon Olds might say) will pay off. Finally, I'd like 
to say thank you to Dr. Kane. You have been my mentor, and 
your zeal for the arts has driven me to pursue the passion I 

have for writing. 



Growth is a process of moving from one state to another. 
Without growth, we fail to realize our ultimate human poten- 
tial. When I approached the design of this Argus, I kept that in 
mind. Last year, we concentrated on the brokenness we often 
experience. That sense of damage was reflected throughout 
the artwork and design aspects of the book. This year we ac- 
knowledge the growth that can occur once you break the soil. 

I used plants, and more specifically trees, as a metaphor for 
humanity. We start small, we grow, and though branches 
may fall throughout our lives, we end up changing a lot more 
around us than we could ever know. I wanted this book to be 
open, fresh, and inviting. The lack of a title, aside from "Ar- 
gus" allows the viewer to interpret the mood of this book in 
the manner that best relates to him or her. 

I am hopeful that I have helped create two books that truly 
reflect a campus populated with people who have real lives, 
hardships, dreams, and people that embrace growth. 

I would like to thank Andi and the entire Argus staff, who mo- 
tivated me to no end when I presented to them (a bit less than 
eloquently) my ideas. I would like to thank those designers for 
the Argus before me, who made me challenge myself. Lastly, 
I would like to acknowledge Northwestern State University of 
Natchitoches. This publication has been created for decades 
now, and I am proud to be a part of a university that gives us 
this opportunity. 


Argus 2008 



Michael Yankowski has been a professor of art at 
Northwestern State University for twenty-one years. He 
teaches Photography, Graphic Communication, and 
Design. He was a professional photographer, graphic 
designer, and high school art teacher before he decided 
to join the staff at NSU. He exhibits nationally and is rep- 
resented in a gallery in New Orleans. 

Valerie Powell is an assistant professor in the Depart- 
ment of Fine and Graphic Arts at Northwestern State 
University, LA. 


Sonny Carter has been a photographer for news media, 
editorial, and commercial photography since 1960. He 
is currently published in Louisiana Life Magazine and on 
the website 

Our second photography judge wishes to remain 

Michael Yankowski 

Argus 2008 judges (cont.) 


Amanda Cagle, a native of Louisiana, received her Ph.D. 
in English from the University of Connecticut. Her fiction 
and poetry have appeared in journals such as The Ontar- 
io Review, The Connecticut Review, Revista Atenea, The 
Essay Connection, and The Louisiana Review. She has 
been the recipient of both the Wallace Stevens Poetry 
Prize and the Edwin Way Teale Nature Writing Award. 
Currently, she is at work on a novel. 

Dr. J. Rocky Colavito is a professor of English in the 
Department of Language and Communication at North- 
western State University, LA. 

Krista Jenkins received a B.A. in English Literature as 
well as an M.A. in Writing and Linguistics from North- 
western State University. An avid creative writer and 
poet, she eagerly shares her passion for writing with her 
students while teaching composition courses in North- 
western's Department of Language and Communication. 



Dr. James (Andy) Crank attended Washington Univer- 
sity in St. Louis before receiving his M.A. and Ph.D. at 
the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he 
specialized in American, Southern, and African American 
literature. Much of his publications center on Tennessee 
poet/novelist James Agee — including an edited edition 
of the author's short fiction, which is due to be published 
by the University of Tennessee Press in 2010. 

Amanda Cagle 

Angelin Adams Borsics is an NSU alumna, served as 
Editor-in-Chief of the Argus for the 2004 and 2005 is- 
sues, and graduated in 2006 with a graduate degree in 
English Writing and Linguistics. She currently works at 
The Wylie Agency, a literary agency in Manhattan, nego- 
tiating contracts and rights for writers. 


Nahla Beier was born in Jerusalem, and has lived in 
Beirut, Lebanon, and various American cities. She has a 
Ph.D. in English Renaissance Literature from the Univer- 
sity of Virginia and teaches English at a residential school 
for gifted students. Her publications include: "One More 
River to Cross," in Children of Israel, Children of Pal- 
estine: Our Own True Stories, and "Veronica's Veil," in 
Passages North. 

Angelin Adams Borsics 

TABLE ©«= 



Pantoum To The Goddess 


Chris Callahan 

1 Wrote A Good Breakfast 


Valerie Foley 

Pajama Clad Bandits 


Michelle Arendt 

Of The Deam Never Lucid 


0. Chandler Crook 

Not Strictly Made Of Stone 


Rebecca Edwards 

Neo Slave Owner 


Keisha Johnson 

Sunday Drive 


Mary Beth Widham 



Michael Wendel 



Andi McKay 



Corey Breitling 

Prozac Isn't The Answer, 


Keisha Johnson 

But Have You Tried Vivactil? 



Randall Frederick 

Incident On The Campti Cutoff 


Robert Lane 

The Conquest 


Roxie James 

12 O'Clock In Texas 


Mallory Waugh 

My Name Part II 


Twonzetta Samuel 

Mystic Sharecroppers III 


Phoenix Savage 

Destination Unknown 


Stetson B. Marcantel 

The Test 


Chris Callahan 

Introduction 2 Art Class 


Tenisha Smith 



Chris Pruden 

Noble And Ancient 


Stetson B. Marcantel 

The Light Of A New Day 


Kamal Hamdy 

Empire Of Dreams 


Randall Frederick 

A Song For Your Mama 


Dane Clayton 

Tuesday With Daisy 


Mary Beth Widham 

Home Of A Hero 


Teranda Donatto 

My Flori 


Sarah Hunt 

The City 


Amanda Roe 

Stroll Down The Hall 


Mary Manno 

i~ Harvest 


Rebecca Edwards 

Abstract Sunset 60 

Contemplation 61 

Discarded Thoughts 62 

Girl With Mask 63 

Simplacid 64 

Jellyfish 65 

More Waiting 67 

Shades Of Blue 71 

Adlay's Glasses 72 

Flicker 73 

Demolition 75 

Holy Sonnet One: 76 
The Body Check 

Among Strange Brethren 77 

Getting Dirty 85 

One Black Tablet 87 

Bufo 88 

The Whole Entire Story 89 

Thoughts Of Paris 97 

Untitled 98 

Pathway 99 

To An Earthen Masterwork 101 

Shall We Dance? 103 

On Coffee And Dragons 104 

Another Addiction 105 

Stark 106 

Lazarus Day 107 

To The Honorable 114 

To Die For An Idea: 115 

A&SKyser (Building 81) 116 

Bearing Their Burdens 117 

With Gratitude For Zafon 118 

Charlotte Chatman 
Kamal Hamdy 
Kera Simon 
Amanda Roe 
Danielle Kenny 
Andi McKay 
Kera Simon 
Roxie James 
Ryan Bonnet 
O. Chandler Crook 
Keisha Johnson 
Mallory Waugh 

Robert Lane 
Shay Atkins 
Katie Quebedeaux 
Marlinda Pruden 
Dane Clayton 
Shay Atkins 
Corey Breitling 
Larrie King 
Anna Raye Jennings 
Randall Frederick 
Jessica F Harvey 
Marlinda Pruden 
Rebecca Edwards 
Matt Guido 
Teranda Donatto 
Anna Raye Jennings 

Robert Lane 
Sarah Hunt 
Michelle Arendt 


Amanda Roe, "Girl With Mask" 


Amanda Roe, "The City" 


Rebecca Edwards, "Harvest" 

Argus 2008 




Sarah Hunt, "My Flori" 


Mary Manno, "Stroll Down The Hall" 


Danielle Kenny, "Sifnplacid" 




Michael Wendel, "Geography" 


Keisha Johnson, "Neo Slave Owner" 


Randall Frederick, "Shall We Dance?" 


Dane Clayton, "The Whole Entire Story" 


Matt Guido, "Lazarus Day" 


Kera Simon, "More Waiting" 




Robert Lane, "Among Strange Brethren" 


Robert Lane, "Incident On The Campti Cutoff" 


Rebecca Edwards, "Not Strictly Made Of Stone" 









Maidens, Mothers, Crones. 

Sitting patiently in disguise, 

Cast your knuckle bones! 

Waiting for a new season to rise. 

Sitting patiently in disguise, 

Watching the world of straw men turn round, 

Waiting for a new season to rise, 

Watching the men of clay return to the 

Watching the world of straw men turn round, 
Seeking only the greater good, 
Watching the men of clay return to the 

Cloistered away in a green wood. 
Seeking only the greater good, 
Alone in Sacred Solitude she toils, 
Cloistered away in a green wood, 
Watching the men fight over the war's spoils. 
Alone in Sacred Solitude she toils, 
Cast your knuckle bones! 
Watching the men fight over war's spoils, 
Maidens, Mothers, Crones. 


I wrote a good breakfast... and ate a hot essay 

after loving you 

I wrote in my fingernails... and polished my diary 

after loving you 

I combed my car. . .and drove my hair to class. . . 

on a Saturday 
after loving you 

dialed my radio... and listened to your phone number... 

after loving you 

I drank my email. ..and checked my wine... 

still tipsy with lust in mind 

after making love to you. 

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The early morning haze hangs heavy 
Above row upon row of tall, green plants 
With tomatoes hanging, waiting and ready 
To be plucked by the small, eager hands. 

Above row upon row of tall, green plants, 
The sun is just rising, its light subdued. 
Thick humidity tickles the skin like ants, 
Expanse of lawn covered by a film of dew. 

The sun is just rising, its light subdued. 
A trio of children with their mother in tow, 
Clutching red and green baskets to store their loot 
They race to the garden and disappear amidst rows. 

Scampering about the garden in the growing heat, 
Three young bandits pluck the ripe red fruits. 
Laughing, they stop and eat one as a treat 
Faces and plump fingers become sticky with juice. 

Three young bandits pluck the ripe red fruits 

Then run to Dad for a hug before he leaves for the day 

And to add to his lunchbox what their forage 

Tomorrow they will repeat their enchanting foray. 

With tomatoes hanging, waiting, and ready 
jh To be gathered and collected like treasure. 
2ri The early morning haze hangs heavy 
^ And envelops the figures in the languorous weather. 




I'd stay asleep longer 
but I know my sheets won't embrace you forever 

The frost has fallen 

and the wind whistles for you to return 

I slide you closer 

to where your lips will graze mine 

I want so much for this to be the moment 

when everything is okay 

I want to give you that moment 

Outside I hear the wind again 

She hums her lullaby 

Close your eyes 

Go to sleep 

No one knows 

The secret you keep 

Live your dream 

Unaware it's a lie 

Try to let all time pass by 


In a flash, she returns me to the fields 
I walk around the bales of hay 
and over the cow pies 

and under the dogwood trees >* 

I walk until I can't see home anymore Z. 

Then finally veiled beneath the shade of my favorite O 

tree f^, 

I tell the cows my secrets TO 

on pieces of stationery s-\ 

that I leave balled up in the grass -g 

I tell them about you p\ 

I'd stay asleep longer ^ 

but I feel your curves sliding away from my fingers 

Soon you will be leaving me 

but I manage to catch the scent 

of tiger lilies lingering in a wisp of your hair 

I covet more than a moment 

but I realize that you belong to the wind 

and I must return to the fields ^ m 






Q The most self-destructive thing that we do as 

people is to allow ourselves to love someone who 
does not deserve it. However, we are usually blinded 
by that love and by our own stupidity— when you 
Q know this person does not deserve your emotional 

LLJ discharge, I assure you, it feels much worse. Yet 

<£ every time that person sucks you into their life, like 

(J some aching vortex. My aching vortex happens to 

(^) be my mother, and I the future victim of many years 

in therapy. 

If pawn shops gave money for children, my 
mother would have put me in hock a long time ago. 
When she's straight and clean, oh how she loves 
me! Oh how sorry she was for whatever she did the 
last time she was high! But when she needs a hit 
and when she's loaded... she'd sell her own soul, or 
those of her children, to the devil for just one more 

Neil Young's lyrics that say "Every junkie is 
like the setting sun," and that old joke about "How 
do you know a junkie is lying? Her lips are moving," 
ring true to me. Approaching her fiftieth birthday, my 
mother's ideal gift would be a goody bag of pills and 
a couple of rocks to smoke at her leisure. 

With that necessary forward stated, I would 
also like to add that this story is merely me sharing 
an experience with you, in hopes of someone relat- 
ing to it in some way. I am not a whiner. I also love 
my mother very much. "I'm going to call Gene, and 
tell him to send me some more money," my mother 
tells me. 

"Mama," I answer, "if you call him for more 
money, then he'll know you're buying drugs and he'll 

ARGUS third place nonfiction 

beat the shit out of you when you go back to him." 

Given the gifted liar she has ultimately become, I see 
the plan forming in her head. "I'll just tell Gene that you have 
to go to the gynecologist, and that I need money to pay for it!" 
she determines. 

I see her sitting on the bed, and can't help but feel 
sorry for her. She's coming down from her last high and I can 
see how hard she is crashing. She needs a hit really badly. 
Her dirty blonde hair is lank and smells like smoke. The bag- 
gy T-shirt she's wearing is starting to show the evidence of her 
profuse sweating. "Goddamn" is used every other word and 
she's so nervous that I'm surprised that there aren't sparks 
forming. It's a tragedy to feel pity for your parent. 

Between her fast and shallow breaths she begins to 
beg. "Becky, please give me a ride to score, please, for your 
mother?" Before I even begin to rebuke her, or dispute the 
posed favor, she knows that she owns me. She knows what 
I'll do even before I do. 

"Are you crazy? It's like 12 a.m. in the morning. I'm 
not going to drive in the quarters so you can buy drugs...," I 
begin. "Everyone knows my car in town and Dad would kill 
me!" I see the urgency in her beautiful yet lined face. I see 
the physical pain that the comedown is causing her. I am 

As I pull up to the rundown shack where her drug 
dealer resides, I am filled with anxiety about being seen by 
someone I go to high school with, or being pulled over by the 
cops. Then, as I'm about to kill the engine, a man appears 
beside my mother's passenger window. She rolls it down. 

"Hey, Dicey baby, I ain't seen you in a long got-damn 
time!" the man exclaims. He then sticks his head through the 
car door and kisses my mother. She lets him in the car and I 
am instructed to drive. While they are catching up I glance at 
him in the rearview mirror. He's got maybe 3 or 4 good teeth 
and is around my mother's age or older. His skin is so black 
that the whites of his eyes are vivid and his skin looks like it's 
carved from wood. Sweat is glistening on his skinny face. 
His Hanes T-shirt is light purple with a pocket on the breast. 
It's got multiple holes, and grease and sweat stains. His blue 
jeans match his overall appearance and he smells strongly of 
baby powder (and not in a clean way). I'm given directions 
by Mr. Dealer and am instructed to drive on to another house, 

being as his own stock is dry. 

What in reality is 15 minutes feels like a year. After my 
mother purchases about 50 bucks worth of crack, I am finally 
allowed to head toward taking her home. 

She can't wait for me to drop her off before she gets 
high, so she starts to load up her pipe in my car. She takes 
the glass tube out of her purse and puts fresh wire in the end. 
She breaks a rock in half and sticks it in the end with the wire. 
She tucks away the remaining half in her little plastic baggie. 
(Instead of teaching me moral life lessons, my mother taught 
me to always put my drugs in plastic, not paper, bags. Paper 
erodes your drugs.) 

She scrunches down low in the seat and puts the pipe 
to her lips. The pipe is tilted slightly upward, so that she can 
get the rock melted. Her lips do an automatic sucking/huffing 
thing and her eyes go slightly crossed as she holds the lighter 
up to the opposite end of the pipe. 

After the preliminaries, she then takes an enormous 
hit. I feel myself breathing the smoke in deeply. My skin 
begins to crawl and my throat tingles~l want a hit. Mom 
introduced me to crack when I was about 15 or 16, so I actu- 
ally did know what I was missing. She taught me to hold the 
smoke in for as long as I could, and then to let it out. As a 
matter of fact, she taught me everything. I swore the last time 
we got high together that it would be the last time for me, and 
I meant it. I would not be her in 30 years, teaching my hypo- 
thetical daughter to smoke or inject drugs. 

All the same, seeing her get the rock ready and tasting 
her smoke in my mouth made my brain fuzzy. While holding 
in her smoke, she says in a strained voice, "You wanna hit 
this, baby?" I lit my cigarette in response—as badly as I want- 
ed to take her up on her offer, disappointing myself would be 

She inhales so much smoke it is like she's been hold- 
ing her breath all this time, and only now can she breathe in 
this holy breath of life. She holds it in for as long as possible, 
then exhales a massive plume out her window. I can sense 
her body starting to relax, but it doesn't last long. After a cou- 
ple more hard hits and that half almost gone, she becomes 
extremely paranoid, and begins looking for cops hiding on 


the side of the road. "Mama, stop being so fucking paranoid, 
you're freaking me out. We're almost home, so just relax." 

"Becky, you've never been to jail, and I ain't ready to 
go back, so shut the hell up and just drive the speed limit." 

Determined as she is that we will be pulled over, she 
puts the plastic baggie of drugs down her panties and hands 
me the pipe. In a forceful and hurried gesture she shoves it in 
my hand. "Put this in your bra," she says. 

I can still feel the glass is scorching hot from her light- 
er. "There is nobody around, and I'm not hiding that on me," I 
yell, my patience wearing thin. I can tell that she is starting to 
get angry. 

"If I were wearing a bra I would put it in mine, but I'm 
not!" She attempts to hide the pipe down her panties along 
with the drugs. 

I know, pulling away from the place that she is staying, 
that she would be up all night hiding and re-hiding her drugs 
compulsively between hits. Tomorrow, when all the rocks 
have been smoked, she will go to the pawn shop, where they 
know her by her first name. She'll get money (from her dead 
mother's jewelry), persuade someone to take her to score, 
and the cycle repeats itself. 

At least my mother isn't boring, and I am grateful for 
all the bad in my life so that I will cherish the good. After 21 
years of my mother being clean, going back to drugs, and 
clean, and drugs, like everything else you are faced with.... 
you learn to adapt and to deal. I believe God knew to make 
me a strong person so that I would be able to handle the life 
that He would give me, because He doesn't give us more 
than we can bear. Instead of spending a lifetime resenting 
my mother, I became an artist (and occasional writer) instead. 
Through her neglect and selfishness, she unknowingly gave 
me the gift of creativity. 





Am I nothing 

but the fiction 

of other people? 

What they make out 

to be real 

is what I make myself 

out to be. I am lost 

in a vacuum 

of words and phrases 

without meaning. 

I am totally not. 

I am a jigsaw puzzle 

of lies. 

Glued, framed, and hung 

up in the back hall. 

Hidden for my insincerity 

that I truly believed in; 


I am not an original. 

But a fake 


by deceiving hands 

to model something greater. 

I am built 

of industrial dreams. 

Manufactured ideas. 

And I hoped for higher things. 

But I am too easily broken 

to be real. 

Too heavily fallen 

like a boulder. 

Shattered on the floor 

like a looking glass 

instead of a diamond. 

Trying to mirror 

the better actions; 

taken with better faith 

with better ideas. 

But I am only 

a carnival distortion. 

I'm no better 

than what I was created from. 

No better than the phony words 

and false faces 

and empty hugs 

and destitute kisses. 

I am a creature of society. 









The car door crashed closed, 
suede seat sagging, 
and she clicked the key clockwise 
but the damned start was dragging. 

She began to shake the shifter 
to restart a well-rehearsed routine- 
tap gas tap gas tap break and turn— 
the erratic engine emits a scream. 

She thrashes through thick streets, 
her grill grinding gravel, 
she mauls ambivalent mailboxes 
(she's terrified to travel). 

White knuckles whirl the wheel and, 
with logic lost along the way, 
the car careens, complete threesixties 
like a beautiful baroque ballet. 


I drew a map of Hawaii on her stomach, 

rolling into a Jim Beam Dream. 

The first blizzard in state history. 

Deep colorful sleep, 

cut short by an everlasting snore. 

So I slinked into my clothes trying not to wake the whore, 

who by some intoxicating mishap 

I asked to dance because she looked like that chick 

from that TV show I can't remember. 

And she ended up with my geography lesson 

strewn upon her belly. 

Tasting the remnants of the mixture of 

stale bud light, bacardi, menthols 

and wintergreen skoal from only hours ago. 

Throwing on my boots donning my coat, 

running my hands through the coarse hair 

covering my face and head. 

Slinking out the door pulling on my stocking cap. 

Looking at my watch, the sun yet to rise. 

The way home looking strangely eerie, 

like that strange boat ride those kids took 

with Willy Wonka down that chocolate moat. 

The street lights glowing like the aurora borealis, 

dome like over the icy, snow-covered streets. 

Walking in a straight line not an option, as gravity suddenly 

my body crashing into the brick paved streets. 

ArgUS first place poetry 

Blacking out for only an eternity, suddenly jerking awake 

a cold wet tongue across my face. 

Panting breath smelling like my aunt Helen's, 

(who looked like the vulture guys in the dark crystal) 

lapping the multicolored snow off of my frozen, blue face, 

a piss-colored mix bitch looking at me with the same 

needy look that ol' whats'er name had to her. 
I wonder if she would be my best friend? 
Scraping myself off of the cold hard bricks, 
bending my glasses into a wearable shape, 
dragging myself down the lonely street 
an homage to Romero. 


the last night that we should have said goodbye, 

in the car windows sliding idly, mildly, down; outside 

a funeral procession lay its mark and lay its dead 

as a marker of this night: the dead who whisper in your radio, 

the universe spiraling between your car seat and mine, 

your hands like skeletons, your breath like juniper, mint 

mind, my mind like a coaster 

i remind you of a poem that you once read, 
but you've slipped away again; 
you could be on the other side of the world, 
you could be one hundred years dead by now, 
you could have slept on bed sheets like mine, 
like i did, that summer, so afraid to go under, 
seeking out hindu elephants on west Virginia hills 
seeking out anything the opposite of. 

the dim lights of the grieving pass by, it's 

no irony i accidentally ended up in the procession, 

no irony we ended up like this, staring out car windows, 

like the dead watching each other from the mausoleum, 

the funeral is for you. the funeral is 

for the trees tonight, the wind whipping 

rhythms against both of our car seats 

down, one, down, one, down, one 

breathes the whimpering singer in 

your stereo, tearing down universes; 

now, your hands are bones, now, 

the ride is through, I 

wait dizzy, without you. 











Sometimes I would kill 

to walk around like a zombie. 

To live like a phantom 

inside my body. 
r\ Glide through quiet 
— > streets. No one can touch me, 
^ nothing can hurt me. 

I want to be a million miles away 
oo when you look into my eyes. 
jjj What would I give to smoke 
V! my soul up to fair-weathered skies. 

And how I would give anything to forget 

who I was supposed to be. 

Lose my mind to something 

no one else can find. 

Already I feel 

my body relax, 

my breathing cut to half, 

ny lids becoming lazy. 

My heart, 

still beating 

still working 

to escape. 



fragile follicles whippoorwilling in the wind 

as I shake out the towel 

and we begin again 

it's not how I see it, that's what I tell myself 

shake out the towel 

clean up the sink 

it's not how I see it, that's what I tell myself 

as I avoid every mirror 

put away the clippers, clean up the sink 

say goodbye to that time of discontent 

avoid the mirror, avoid that mirror, whatever you 

avoid that damned mirror 
for that costumed clown is out of season 
say goodbye to the time of discontent 
though it lives on in pictures and letters 
and that costumed clown was so out of season 
so I put on a new mask and entertain you 
I live on in pictures and letters 
and regret the present more than what came be- 
standing here, reading my lines verbatim 
wearing a mask to entertain you 
regretting the present before 
it happens 
so I make a cut or two, and it's too late to turn 


I can't be what I am 

it's too late, and it happens 

avoiding mirrors and that face that stares back 

missing what came before 

having to shake out the towel 

reincarnated with the same face that stares back 

it's not how I see it, I tell myself as I begin again 

missing what came before 

fragile follicles whippoorwilling in the wind 


There are times in your life when, in a sudden rush of 
randomness, the ordinary departs and the dangerous, the 
challenging, or even the totally absurd will momentarily rear- 
range your carefully planned life just to show you that you are 
not really in charge after all. Such an event occurred in the 
year 2000 on the pulpwood highway between Campti and the 
Red River Bridge, at the Millers Farm Road Crossing. With 
distance and time, I smile about it now, realizing that had the 
event actually killed me, I would not only be famous but pro- 
verbial because of the comic way I met my fate. The kids from 
Lakeview would have erected one of those highway crosses 
painted dark Lakeview green and they would snicker each 
time they drove by at how I had taken one for the school. 

Fridays in the fall last all day and late into the night. There 
is nothing quite like a high school district football game in 
your home stadium on a crisp November night, when the 
lights come on early, and the faithful show up in their warm 



hunting clothes to ring cowbells when the boys run out. I'm 
there, you see. I'm the voice that echoes off the trees. I am 
only the second public address announcer in school his- 
tory, and the first guy only did it for a year. Lakeview was 
so new to football that the sweet little stadium did not even 
have a name. From me calling it Gator Land, the stadium was 
named. No one but me remembers silly details like this, but I 
can smile about the unusual impact that I have had there. In 
2000, I had been there for seven seasons. That year, we had a 
good campaign and the very last game would determine if we 
made it to the playoffs for only the second time in the history 
of the school. To make the scene even better, we had to beat 
our archrival the Red River Bulldogs, our across the parish 
line cousins, to qualify to go to the playoffs as a wild card. 
The Bulldogs were undefeated and untied and we would host 
them for our Senior Night. 

To say the kids were up for the game is to use rather 
severe understatement. Spontaneous cheers began in class- 
rooms even before lunch. The lunch room was a riot of noise, 
without fighting; all hearts and all voices were on the very 
same idea-beat the bulldogs. Afternoon classes were a 
waste of time and, by pep rally time, the din of cheers from 
the stands made the cheerleaders sound like so many mimes. 
It was like one giant heart beating inside as the building strug- 
gled to contain it. It was going to be a day to remember, at 
least until the next time we played our cross the line cousins. 

Senior Night, I have always maintained, is really for the 
parents. They get introduced with their seniors and get to 
relish in their child's accomplishments as the student athlete 
takes the applause from the crowd for the last time at home. 
Though I did not invent Senior Night at Lakeview, I have been 
in charge of it since the first year we had it. Since I am also 
the English III teacher when I am not announcing ball games, 
I write my own scripts for Senior Night and Homecoming 
and also announce half time shows. Don't the band kids and 


dance line deserve the zippy hyperbole of a real introduction? 
Senior Night 2000 was as cold as a well digger's butt. We 
were ready to beat the bulldogs. 

Now I need to tell you a secret. I hate pep rallies. An- 
nouncing at a pep rally is exhausting, hot, and fruitless. After 
trying to maintain some semblance of order for six periods, 
then to have to run that on its head and help whip everyone 
up strikes me as just silly. On games like Senior Night there is 
no use to announce— it's too loud even for the microphone. 
They give me a monster headache and I have to pretend I'm 
really enjoying myself. Announcing the seniors at the pep rally 
that fateful year was like watching crusaders looting Jeru- 
salem. My head was as big as a pumpkin afterwards. It had 
been a three Aleve kind of day. I wanted to feel much better 
for the presentation at the game. 

As much as I hate pep rallies, I love working in the press 
box. Press box work takes advantage of one of my few real 
talents, being able to talk and listen at the same time. In the 
tiny press box in Gator Land, we sit as tightly as one might in 
a World War I vintage submarine. I have the middle seat. To 
my right is the spotter who helps me quickly call who made 
the play. This person is more valuable than gold. On my left 
are two statisticians, one for our offense and the other for our 
defense. On either side of this line of people sits a coach, one 
of ours and one of theirs on headsets talking to the side- 
lines. Over my right shoulder is the guy from the paper. On 
the far left end is whatever radio station shows up. As soon 
as pre-game is over and the teams line up to kick, everyone 
goes to work in the press box talking as loud and fast as they 
can. Cords and cables run everywhere on the floor. The place 
sounds like we are trading orange juice futures. It is the most 
fun I have had on a Friday night since I was a player. From out 
of the din of voices and the crackle of electrical equipment, 
we help Lakeview football put on one hell of a show. I do it 
from the best seat in the house. This was the type of night 
that I anticipated that year, in 2000, but the random chaos 
vortex had slightly different plans. 

I was a headache walking on two long legs as I left the 


back door of Lakeview High School after the pep rally had 
been turned out on the bus ramp. I had last minute check-off 
drill to finish making sure everything for Senior Night introduc- 
tions was ready before I left for the afternoon, hopefully to sit 
somewhere in a quiet room. The field painters were still hard 
at it. 

"Coach Lane, would you mind going to get the programs to- 
day?" whined the new cheerleader sponsor, looking up from a 
large can of green paint. She had her hair in pigtails and paint 
all over her overalls. She looked about 16. Jeans day will do 
that for a young teacher. "I look a mess." I just kind of looked 
at my feet. "OK, but remember you said you looked a mess, 
not me." Damn, I had to drive clear to Impressions by Duni- 
gan to pick up the program that had the Senior Night insert 
that we had designed during publications two weeks before. 
If I was going to be a full service kind of guy, I guessed then 
I'd even go pick up the programs. Stepping out of my usual 
routine may have been what disturbed the universe that day. If 
it did, I hold no ill will against the cheerleader sponsor who the 
very next year married some bigwig in the CP-Tel family and 
retired from teaching at age 26. 

The Campti Cutoff, or state highway 486, runs from its 
junction with Highway 71 in hypotenuse fashion through the 
countryside to Campti, cutting the corner so one does not 
have to take 71 all the way into Clarence before turning left to 
arrive in Campti on the other side of town. It is driven primarily 
by log trucks, 18 wheelers, the occasional hay bailer, and any 
local resident with a sturdy enough vehicle and constitution 
to risk his life doing so. Though the posted limit is 45, the real 
speed limit is more like 60. Even though it is stated nowhere 
in the vehicle code, log trucks absolutely have the right of 
way. There are 13 crosses where someone has lost their life in 
a vehicle accident that dot the Cutoff from where I turn onto 
it from Highway 71 , to where I fork right onto Highway 9 just 
below Lakeview. The Cutoff on a bad day resembles a Mad 
Max film. You just have to hope for the best. 

I left the school at about 3:20 PM, needing to make it to 
Impressions before it closed. The Cutoff was crowded with 
traffic, all of it moving too fast and too close together. I was 
driving, rather proudly, the new-to-us Windstar that we had 

bought about two months before as a program vehicle. It 
still had the new car smell. I had the oldies channel on the 
radio and "Working on the chain gang" was blaring out of my 
new speakers when I noticed something really odd coming 
in the opposite direction. There was a short bed pickup, red 
and bondo colored, laboring under the load of several major 
appliances. It appeared that the driver had stacked them up 
very high on top of each other. It was at that moment that the 
magic happened. As we came close enough to each other for 
me to notice that he had indeed stacked a stove on top of a 
deep freeze, I said aloud, "There's no rope around that stove." 

Even now, I am not sure that me saying that did not 
cause the stove to fall. Just as I finished that statement, the 
truck lurched as if it had braked suddenly or shifted gears, 
then spun its tires and sped up. This motion caused the stove 
to drop off to the right. It fell in my lane, just missing the truck 
in front of me, and began rolling toward me. I was going about 
62 miles per hour when the stove fell off the truck. As odd as 
this sounds, things seemed to go very slowly from that point 
until the impact. I glanced at the left lane. A log truck was 
coming on at speed. That would have meant death. I looked 
to the right, but the shoulder had dropped away about eight 
or ten feet in a gentle hill that ended in Papa Miller's farm. I 
did not want to roll the van. I literally stood on the brake. 

For the first time in my life, I shouted at God, "Jesus, stop 
my van!" I was still sort of standing up when I struck the roll- 
ing stove. The sound was like hearing a tin roof being ripped 
off a house by a hurricane. The impact slammed my head and 
neck against the roof and the air bag hit me in the stomach 
and abdomen. I noted that it smelled like gunpowder and 
thought grimly that it would have killed my young son. The 
van had begun to spin and I prayed quickly that I would not 
hit an oncoming log truck or roll upside down. I had the odd 
thought that this was like playing Mario Cart for real. I actually 
hollered "Gators Forever" in case that was the last time I'd get 
to say that. 

Moments later, the van stopped moving. I realized I had 
closed my eyes. When I opened them and looked around, I 


was off the road on the right side, pointing the wrong direc- 
tion about five feet from the point where it dropped off down 
the hill to Miller's farm. I was all in one piece. I got out. Then I 
was frightened. My new van looked like it had been beaten to 
death by a giant monster or had lost a transformer war. I be- 
gan to shake. Large pieces of what was the stove were strewn 
all over the road. My first thoughts were about the programs. 
Then more lucidly, I wondered what insurance company would 
believe my story. "Oh, yeah hit by a stove, go sleep it off." 
Worse than that, the truck that had dropped its stove cargo in 
front of my van was nowhere to be seen. As I wondered what 
to do next, Mr. Miller arrived. "My God. Coach Lane, what 
did you hit? "It was a... stove." "Are you OK?" "I guess." "I 
thought you might have hit somebody." "Yeah, somebody 1 1 
feet tall and made of cast iron." He began to laugh. Then he 
apologized and whipped out his cell phone to call 91 1 . 

About five minutes later, the stove-dropping truck crept 
back into view, pulled off the road just behind me, but no one 
got out. I walked up to the truck. The old man that was driving 
actually ducked down in the seat. Ah, shit, I've scared paw- 
paw. The passenger, who looked about 20, began to reach 
under the seat. I had a flash that he might be going for his 
gun, so I stood back from the truck and held my hands out to 
indicate that they were empty and that I was not armed. They 
both sat up but did not make a move to get out. 

I approached the truck slowly and tapped on the window. 
The driver rolled his window down about two inches, "What 
do you want?" I decided I had to be funny. I bowed just a bit 
and said in my most courtly voice, "Excuse me, good sirs, you 
seemed to have dropped your stove." The passenger began 
to laugh. The driver was still wary. "You're not going to beat 
anybody up?" "No, of course not." Then he noticed my hat. 
He asked me if I was from the school. I said I was. He smiled. 
He begin to name his grandkids. I told him I had taught them 
all and was going to introduce his cheerleader granddaughter 
if I ever managed to get back to the school. He was all smiles 
after that. The passenger, however, became somewhat mo- 
rose wanting to know if I was going to pay for the stove I had 
ruined. I decided to ignore that. The police arrived. 

Though the local constabulary knew who I was, and the 
truck driver confirmed my story, they all laughed at me while 
we filled out the paperwork. The policeman told me that the 
older driver, 87, had seen a program the night before where 
one person involved in a two-car pile up had beaten the other 
driver with a tire iron, and he somehow imagined that I might 
do the same to him. I just looked at my shoes. I got them to 
call Lakeview and have the coaches dispatch someone else 
to get the programs. The tow truck arrived. The driver whis- 
tled at the wreck and laughed at the story as the policeman 
practiced telling it. "Somebody's going to send my kid to col- 
lege paying for this one," said the wrecker as he cinched up 
what was left of my van. I had told the police that I could not 
bend over, which was the gospel truth, but I refused medical 
treatment. I did accept a ride back to school. 

I felt like a standup comic telling my story in the field 
house. Once everyone saw that I was not seriously hurt, we 
had a jolly time. Even my sweet wife of so many years, once 
she got over the shock that I had destroyed the van but was 
not hurt, laughed uproariously at the story. I felt like Bozo the 
clown— with a major headache. I took about five Excedrin. 
When the programs arrived, I was feeling no pain and decided 
I could announce the game. 

Evidently, after the wreck and the yucks everyone got 
from it, the stars over Campti returned to their rightful place 
or perhaps their better than rightful places. Senior Night went 
off perfectly. We beat the Bull Dogs 14-7 on a wild punt return 
by a freshman safety who went the wrong way, away from 
the forming wall of linemen, and managed to outrun the only 
defender who saw him bail out for a 52 yard score. 

One call from Edwin Dunahoe convinced the Saferight 
insurance company that their driver, who got five citations, 
was in enough of the wrong that they should repair my van, 
provide me with a rental car, and pay for me to go to the chi- 
ropractor. The only available rental car in Natchitoches turned 
out to be a brand new Cutlass Supreme that I got to drive for 
six weeks while my car was fixed. I went several times a week 


to the chiropractor until I could touch my toes again. I was 
proud of the fact that I missed no school. 

The funniest incident in the stove vs. van story occurred 
first hour on the Monday after Senior Night. I was determined 
not to just tell the story all day. Everyone knew the details 
anyway. Lakeview is a small place. I was determined to press 
on with school. When I went to write some stellar informa- 
tion on the board, I could not reach high enough to begin at 
the top. Suddenly, one of my clowns in the back achieved a 
career funny moment. "Hey, Coach Lane is all stoved up!" The 
place collapsed in laughter. I had survived and had become 
proverbial in the bargain. 

I still get my car inspected at the body shop where I got 
the van repaired. Every time I pull in there, someone will hol- 
ler, "Hey it's the stove guy!" It is certain that if I am buried 
in Campti when my time comes they will inscribe the words 
"stove guy" on my headstone. I am just very glad that they did 
not do it the day the stove and I met close up. 

Yes, there are times in your life when the ordinary is shak- 
en by something dangerous, challenging, or absurd. For me, 
it turned out to be all three. I have resolved myself somewhat 
to the idea that my fifteen minutes of fame turned out to be 
a violent encounter with a rolling stove, but everyone laughs, 
and as they do, I am glad not to be commemorated by the 
14th wooden cross, the one that people would snicker at as 
they drove by it. 

The only lasting effect of this event was the premature 
death of the van. Though resurrected afterwards, it never 
worked quite right again. I also am very careful around people 
hauling loads in pickup trucks, but that is a good idea anyway. 


A long time ago there lived a great king 

Who lived in a land well known 

But then that king died with no children beared 

And no one to carry the throne 

Three men from afar all vied for the land 

But none the title deserved 

Prior agreements, blood, and politics 

Were all the reasons served 

Battles were fought and blood was shed 

All for one sacred crown 

It became more apparent to all those coherent 

The great Kingdom was being worn down 

Then one of the men he gained an advantage 

Let's just call him Will 

With 600 ships and 2000 horses 

He came to this country to kill 

News of the arrival spread wild like a fire 

In the hearts of all it brought fear 

Some natives rebelled, and brought William hell 

But most simply shed a tear 

The date in their mind they will always 

The date in their mind is fixed 
For it's simple to reason, it's simple to know 
It's the conquest of 1066 



7^jB^^ ^' 



It's 12 o'clock in Texas, 

And the rain's a pourin' down. 

Yes it's 12 o'clock in Texas, 

And my tears are runnin' down. 

My man left me today, 

I put him in the ground. 

My man left me today, 

I caught him foolin' around. 

And my tears were pourin' down, 

I laid that two-timin' ass in the ground, 

I caught him with my best friend, 

My heart it did pound. 

He was messin' with my best friend, 

When I shot them both down. 

Well at 12 o'clock in Texas, 

I was puttin' up a fight, 

But at 12:01 in Texas, 

The cops read me my rights. 

And my tears, oh they fell, 

When I was thrown in the prison cell. 

On death row in Texas, 

In this prison cell. 

But not afraid of dyin', 

For I'm already in hell. 

Well it's 12 o'clock in Texas, 

And they're ringin' my death bell. 



PARI it 




Who in the world, what in the world, how could this be? 

What were they thinking when they named me?! 

Young and dumb 

They didn't know 

Everybody just decided to let their creativity flow. 

The starting letter is a T, why oh why do they think it's a 
^ It's Twonzetta, not Poinsettia 
~Z And No I was not born in December 
C\ The month is September, 
^ If you must know 
p Yes my first and middle name rhyme, 


Leave me alone, don't ask me 

I'm still trying to create this name, 

Only I can give it an identity. 

No my family is NOT African-American, just simply black, 

And could you please cut me some slack! 

Yes, the last name is Nesbitt and yes my uncle is Tim. 

Should I even bother to tell you that: 


My cousins are Jabar, Eric, and Derrick, 

This is no new find 

Yes I am aware that they fight all the time. 

But if you please, 

I have decided not to intertwine our destinies. 

Give me that chance, let my destiny be 

And I'm sure you will quickly see that, 


Beautiful, articulate, and determined 

To walk outside the mold 

For my destiny 

Your hands 

cannot hold. 


n a$4tfi 






<T " 

j^ A splash 

■y Falling water 

<< Crashing down 

r \ Blue 

rv Blue becomes the sky 

<< Wind racing, howling 

^ Wind screeching 

Blue as far as the eye can see 

A swish 

Thousands of seeds 

Growing up 
7r\ Green 

— 7 Green becoming the grass 
^ The solid ground, enduring 
^ The ground bearing all 
I — Green under the blue 
j- 1 - 1 A swoosh 
CO A bright glow 

Shining everywhere 


Yellow becomes the sun 

The star of the morning, burning 

The sun illuminating all we see 

Yellow in between the blue and green 

A dash 

Wood and Steel 

Dull and old 

Gray and black 

Here and there 

The tracks are made 

Across the ground they glide 

Under the morning sky 



A twist 

A blend 

Blue and red 

To create the centerpiece 

Burning engines 

r lA* 

Smokeless stack 

The heavy locomotive 

Tears down the endless track 

Locked forever 

In an endless run 

Destination unknown 

Never reaching home 

All the colors 

The bright yellow 

The windy blue 

Solid green 

The dull gray and black 

Blue and red 

And all the vague colors hid in between 

Empty colors 

Building a prison of joy 

A happy painting 

A joyful day 

Of never-ending pain 

Locked away 

Ever riding the endless rails 

In the smokeless locomotive 

All alone 

As the conductor yells 

Estimated arrival 

To destination unknown 





1 square, 2 square, four. Pi r square, cornbread r round. 
"Fill fully, Number 2 only," she said. Scribble. Scrabble. Blank 

filling in darkly. A full mind emptying out. Pretty patterns, 
plotting points. Scribble. Scrabble. Tick. Tock. Hot lead and 
burning rubber. Eggs are to birds as b is to c. It's getting 
shorter, all getting duller. Faster! Hurry! Faster! Turn The Page! 
Filling and blanking. Scribbling, scrabbling. The Ticking! 
The Tocking! Poor numb hand, poor numb mind. "Time," she 

Pretty patterns, nothing less and nothing more. Breakneck pace, 
just another failed test. 


1 am not a painter sjjg 
a masterpiece 2 me is most beautiful when u lay 

ur body atop mine moving effortlessly with ease ^j 

with ur paint brush im ur easel (g\ 

u trace ur moans in2 my skin ri 

i paint my songs on2 ur heart so that it lasts. C 

Swimming terrifies me yet I appreciate the movement ^ 

of ur body _"H 

i enjoy the story it tells (g 
the drip drip drip dripping of ur river faucets flowing 

fluently in2 the december of my springs .. ^ 
rising up like waterfalls 

the small waves enlarged J> 

crashing down gently in2 the likes of me. ^0 
Dancing across the bed comes familiar 2 me 

strong legs, strong hands C 

u raise me 2 the sky L^ 

(the soil feels good between my toes) JjT 

i lift my legs up so high they go beyond the galaxy £2 

u join me in heaven. . 

Et i write u across the walls m 

Pencil u on2 the floor Z 

My intent means so much more than c75 

2 be the best X 

Art student there is 2 be ^> 

2 write the next big poem oo 

2 inspire or incite ^ 
I just want 2 stencil stanzas on2 ur soul, zzj 

Come, I 
Let me teach u a lesson... 


The seats at gate B24 smell funny, but for no apparent 
reason. They aren't stained or particularly dirty. The plane 
is delayed and the passengers sit restlessly in their smelly 
seats. Each focuses on his final destination and the tedious 
ride about to depart. The call comes and the plane slowly 
fills. The gate agent finishes her last check, but stops when 
she catches sight of Gabrielle. Gabrielle is a regular and uses 
the flight for work. She walks to the counter late, not rush- 
ing, heels in hand - stiletto with that wide strap that fits snug 
around her slender ankle. The gate agent lets her on the 
flight, but not without a wink and a sigh. The wind shakes the 
jetway to the rhythm of her hips in a determined walk, making 
her skirt flail in cooperation with her curves. She greets the 
flight attendant and, as she makes her way to a seat near the 
back of the plane, smiles. The other passengers notice her 
arrival and collectively hold their breath with a mix of excite- 
ment and dread. A young child, confused by this reaction, 
innocently asks his mother, "Who is that pretty lady?" Quickly 
shushing her son, the mother replies in quiet terse language, 
"She is the in-flight prostitute." Gabrielle takes her seat next 
to one excited male, and after adjusting her shoes, brings 
a brush from her purse. Brushing her long brown hair with 
rhythmical strokes, she soon loses herself in the activity and 


the boundaries of personal space drop from her. She be- 
gins rubbing her thigh against her neighbor's leg, while her 
hair blows into the aisle. He is obviously interested but has 
not the value Gabrielle needs to fulfill her requirements. She 
decides to visit the bathroom to help her search. Traveling the 
length of the plane, she smiles at every potential customer, 
discreetly holding three fingers pointed toward the floor. She 
enters the lavatory and the occupied sign blinks once, quickly, 
like she accidentally fumbled with the lock, and turns off 
(Gabrielle has worked on this technique for quite some time). 
She waits as one by one the businessmen, young and old, 
in their suits and ties, walk casually down the aisle following 
Gabrielle's scent like bloodhounds. 

Gabrielle is a hard worker, and after the flight lands she 
takes only thirty minutes for a quick lunch before the return. 
When she finally arrives home, she is tired, but satisfied with 
a job well done. She is always the first to exit the plane to sit 
by her usual gate B24 and watch the contented faces of her 
clients, as they hurry home for dinner with their wives and 










A hundred miles to 
nowhere. A spider sits on 
an overgrown sign. 

Empty city streets 

plastered with yellowed paper 

From a time long past. 

Ancient metal frames 
sit as relics of the past. 
Misplaced vanity. 

Cracked and broken stone 
tower over empty streets. 
Forlorn monuments. 

Sound echoes on walls, 
ghosts crying across ages. 
Bittersweet sirens. 

Footprints in the stone. 

The steps taken by those old, 

forever walking. 

Weapons of power 
lie rusting in their glory. 
Hallowed salvation. 

A raven perches 

on a bleached skull eyeing all, 

speaking, "Nevermore." 

Oh, tragic landmark 

what noble and ancient race 

once lived on this land? 









Ire ©f dreams 

civilizations exist by mutual consent 

and are subject to change without notice 

for no household can stand 

'cept they be united, 

divided empires, dreams, and kingdoms 

fail and fall like rain 

— | but kings and knights do reign 

<^ (with their ladies' consent) 

Q in empires and kingdoms 

~y where little notes are carried without notice 

<£ between a queen and he who she has knighted 

rv rising to full authority over her disrobed glory, he stands 

riding across her outstretched lands 

conquering her like so many kingdoms before, he reigns 

for those unnoticed notes turn to whispers turn to touches 

turn to bodies united 
with full royal, queenly, sighing, liquid consent 
all behind chamberdoors and hallways without notice 
these secrets of the kingdom 

for there is no kingdom 

he desires more than her body, kneeling at the touch of her 

shivering, quivering, whimpering, mewling, as he strokes 

and caresses her lotus 
elements of her burning body, his kisses like rain 
all with amorous, adoring, delightfully liquid consent 
his sword in her full-bodied sheath, united 


intertwined, he floods her inflamed inner gates, 

their bodies united 
and caresses her back kingdom 
willingly, she bows and consents 
to take off her royal golden band 
crowned in her divinity, she falls apart, 

with pleasure and pain 
collected each time, as he waters her pink, dewy 


others, these two notice 
friendships and loyalties divided 
for the heart is an organ of fire 

unquenched by the elements of time and rain 
divided empires and kingdoms 
and a knight exiled to the ends of the land 
by mutual consent 

but this memento she gives, that royal band 

and the tears between them like rain 

what passes between them going without notice 



~Z_ Sometime before the end of us 

Q I was down to half-pack days 
and completely out 
when we met at your house 
over TV trays and the evening news. 

QJ She was touching tips against the advice 

, , , of the Healthcast 

-y in Guns 'N Roses. 

^ I offered a shaky hand 

q and she handed me the one with lipstick. 


^ Remember, I used to pay for us both 
and throw the pennies in the trash can 
so the little kids would never find them? 
You loved the excess 
and I could cover the difference 
plus the cost of a DVD. 
She knew what the deal was with movie 

why you always wore a skirt; 
probably knew that I was doomed 
when she saw all my T-shirts had some year 
printed on them for some brief event 

W or reunion tour 

12! and that I couldn't quit: 

© not the way I stared, 

*** not anything. 



I wanted to write a song for your mother, 

but I can't 

because I'm fucked 

and this is it: it doesn't rhyme 

and I sure as hell won't sing. 

So deliver this anyway you know how 

to those who love what they ought not to, 

standing in the gas station parking lot, 

a fresh pack of smokes in-pocket 

and a small coin 

without another to jingle against. 





so I'm wading in the unforgiving piss-yellow pool of the 
street lamp/drowning gargling, sputtering, spitting/some 
nursery rhyme wackbards & waiting for some green, the 
fact is that my man came in from Memphis, the smell of 
blue bacon trailing him to statelines,/& this shit is sup- 
posed to be killer. & I'm winking at this curly blonde 

the street./ her name's 
>- Daisy, dancing in the window in some electric pink paja- 



mas that fall apart when you pull on/one lacy ribbon. I 

want that ribbon 
tied around my finger. I want to drum a rhythm on the 
sidewalk to strip her/and wrap myself around her hips 
or/wrist or neck or heart and squeeze until my sweaty 
palms can prove my lustful dazed devotion. 

& here he comes (always late, it's hard to say)/ here 
comes my man, stomping up second/shoes whiter than 
god's teeth/formless/ black hurricane hoodie half swal- 
lowed him whole./l smell him 
before he turns the corner and I break Daisy's gaze 
with/eyes I know she's seen before, /my sweaty hand 
meets his sweaty hand/ but my eyes pull back to her like 
clockwork cat & my man/ thin that bitch'd suck my dick 
with that 20 bucks you got for me?/ and if I didn't need 
this guy, my man, to like me I would have wailed on him 
she's an angel a fucking angel she's desperate 
she's alone she's scared she's fucking scared 
and you you don 't deserve to look at her you 
wad of shit/ she may be a great lay but her 

heart is dead 


but anyway I laugh and cough I guess/she's got nice tits but if 
they ever let her out of that cage, I wouldn't fuck that shit with 

a 10 foot pole, 
eyes dart marking seconds & I see/ she's staring at me with 
hollow eyes she knows I've seen before./(hips and tits still roll- 
ing like waves like the moon is pulling her pussy with fishing 

when he stops laughing, let's take a walk, her stare still digs 
knives in my turned back/ & over my shoulder I flip her off. 

I said it cause it's probably true 

I only obsess over what I can't have 
I said it cause her dignity is an insignificant price to 

pay for a good deal on a half. 






MY 3 

;■; ? e 






r ' 


































the stench of day gathers in time, 

the wetness of my shirt clings to my spine. 

i came to find something for my own good, 

i came to find out if you would 

let me move and swing with limbs like jellyfish 

who are born of lightning and the sea's kiss. 

and if i had been born of someone's kiss 

i'd hope to revel somewhere in time 

and live under the waves like the jellyfish 

feel the change to liquid from bone in my spine 

and you laugh and say i never would 

you ask: "how would that do you any good?" 

i've become so bored with bad and good 
and so intolerant of any one else's kiss 
because you smell of heat and hickory wood 
and you taste like the sea everytime; 
of the sea, of sweat, of the back of my spine 
and i melt down just like a jellyfish 

but the crowd is weaving like a jellyfish 
we're all here for our own good 
twisting and bending from our spines 
where palms high and night sky kiss 
our little moment of the only time 
we stretch ourselves as we said we would 


oh, god, if only i could i would 

spend my life like a jellyfish 

(only) if you were the sea, and i in time 

will find you are nothing or all that's good 

like the sea or crowd or when we kiss, 

i stand down, it's the evolution of my spine 

oh, I know how the seas pine 
and just how well we all would 
be the victim's of no one's kiss 
or lose our spines like jellyfish 
but i do this for my own good, 
i just do this every time. 

[you check the time, your spine like a tree 

it's good that you would be so free as 

to kiss me when i'm limp as a beached jellyfish] 



"Is he breathing?" I ask, walking to the 
side of the bed. I feel his chest; the old man 
is so weak. 

Grandma washes dishes, finding what- 
ever she can to take her mind off of her 
emotional turmoil. She doesn't cry. I've 
never seen her cry. Her voice breaks when 
she refers to footprints in the sand, but I don't 
look. I can't. 

We've been waiting, just waiting for the 
past two days. The nurse said he would die 
yesterday. We don't know what keeps him 

I walk to the window and watch my little 
cousins play. They make too much noise 
and don't understand the significance of the 
silence. We try to keep them outside. 

"I barely know these people," I tell myself. 
"It's a shame how only weddings and funerals 
bring families together... Well, my family." 

Grampa takes a long breath followed by 
a small moan. It's the only way we know he's 
in pain. He can't tell us when he hurts. He 
hasn't been able to speak for 30 years, ever 
since "the accident...." 

"I wonder what he was like," I continue to 
think as I stare out of the window. 



Dad would tell us stories about how Grampa 
raised him and his older brothers. He seemed 
pretty strict. 

"I've always wondered what his voice sounded 

Seek-a-word, muted TV, empty beer bottles... 
Cigarette smoke rises into the dim-lit sky. 

I listen to the bullshit behind me. After just two 
days with these "relatives," my inner-temper is get- 
ting short. 

"God, these people are aggravating... I don't 
know how Grandma stands it," I gripe to myself. 

Grandma has been very tolerant. She's taken 
care of her ailing husband for almost 30 years 
since "the accident," and she watched her family 
run around with about as much sense as a retard- 
ed rock. 

Grandma sits in her rocker with her new- 
est grand-baby. She waits for everyone to settle 
down. She's just waiting. 

The voices get louder as more beer is con- 
sumed. People are laughing as the old man strug- 
gles to breathe. 

"Who the fuck ever heard of drinking beer 
during a death-watch?" I bitch silently to myself. 
"These people are so self-oriented. This is not 

Dad's oldest brother starts preaching again, 
with a slight glaze over his eyes.... 

"Oh, Uncle Johnny, quit crying." 

Water bottles, blankets, goosebumps. The 
sound of dark silence and shallow breathing fill the 

I sit with my book by a lamp at 3:30 a.m. My 
sister and I take shifts to watch over Grampa. 

He coughs— I go to the bed. He moans— I go 
to the bed. He's quiet— I go to the bed. 

"The old man has me up every fifteen minutes," 
I whisper softly to myself as I make my way to his 

I fight my tired eyes and listen to the IV push 
fluid into his old veins. Grampa looks pale and his 

hands are cold. His eyes are rolled back and 
his mouth is open. 

"Is he breathing?" I say a little bit louder, 
only to fall on sleeping ears. 

I check his chest. It still moves—barely... 
More waiting.... 

Tear-streaked cheeks, rosary beads, 
strained breathing. Early morning light 
streams into a crowded living room. 

Grandma leads the rosary prayers. 

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with 
thee," is said in somber unison. 

I stand behind my Dad and hold the hand 
of a once-foreign cousin. 

"I got nervous so quick when he stopped 
breathing and now I feel nauseous," I tell the 
friend of familiar blood. "He gave us quite a 
scare. We still don't know what he's waiting 

I hold my head down so the tears will 
slide off more easily. I can't say the prayers 
out loud; my throat hurts too much. 

The nurse says that Grampa is falling, but 
it could still be a while; which to everyone 
means— more waiting. 

A flash of white light is surprising in the 
orange-lit room. Uncle Johnny is taking pic- 

"You gotta be kidding me. And I thought I 
was camera-crazy... Only my family...." 

Cold biscuits, pajamas, soft chuckles. 
The family sits together to share old memo- 
ries while warm smiles spread throughout the 

"We're all so tired," I say to myself, but 
the laughter in the background stifles my 

I stare out of the same window as yes- 


terday. No kids to pretend to watch-just the 

"We may not know each other very well, 
but I guess we have to love each other," I 
think with a smirk. 

My cousin takes me by the hand and 
shows me a picture of Grampa when he was 
a soldier in WWII. Her son asks her who that 
picture is of, and she proudly says, "That's 
old Grampa." 

I look over my shoulder where the old 
man is quiet. His lips are blue. 

"Is he breathing?" I ask out loud. 

The nurse shuffles to the bed, feeling his 
wrist, and looks at her watch. 


These shades of blue they always treat me wrong 

These shades of blue they always treat me wrong 

And so I'm left just writin' this here song. 

Steel blue, I'm through with you 

Royal, you were disloyal 

Midnight, you bared no light 

Azure, made me demure 

These shades of blue they always do me wrong 

These shades of blue they always do me wrong 

And tears - down my face - roll along. 

And there you laid 

And here I prayed 

For each damn shade 

A pain is laid 

You treat me wrong you diff' rent shades of blue 

You treat me wrong you diff' rent shades of blue 

So I guess I'll just be through with you 





Glasses always lopsided, slipping _£ 

down his nose, give him a Faustian y> 

intellectual look, as if he is about ~Z_ 

to be consumed by his own mind. 

And me wishing I wore glasses 

and wore them like that. He pushes 

them up. Why? He doesn't need to. 

I put them on once and, figuring 

out that he was nearsighted— or 

was it farsighted, I can never tell. 

It's the one where he can't see far 

away. Let them fall haphazardly 

down, letting my intellect consume 

and digest me and spit me out 

sticky and covered in yellow fluid, 

like a newborn baby. I am a baby 

at least with these glasses on. 

My vision is blurred, lights 

are distorted, and suddenly 

Everything seems too perfect and 
innocent, the oval lenses fit my eyes too 
well and, with everything distorted, my 
mind recedes, the blurriness and light 
offending it, as if it's an evil entity 
and my brain cuddles up in its 
little niche in the wall and quivers, 
letting survival instincts kick in, 
taking away the awkward and time- 
consuming analytical nature usually 
presented. I hate new things. 


^ i. 


r\ uncle died - stared in 

ry the casket too long, dad said, 

f) child, it's rude to stare. 

qj i stared anyway 

— i wondered why clothes were ironed 

Q - knew he hated ties 

<C grandma grabbed my arm 

31 you'll forget him, it's the smell 

O that you'll remember 

O grandma died - death's smell 

Q£ lingered long after handshakes 

with people i hate 

dad made me accept 
broccoli casseroles that said, 
U^ i don't care she's dead. 

looked at her just once - 
thought it was dreadful to be 
frozen to one space 


you died -didn't go 

to your wake - watched the sun set 

frozen to one space 

relatives they called 

each got the same reaction 

i don't care she's dead 

you died - didn't care 
i don't go to funerals 
of people i hate 

dad came by today 

said - why is it just the bad 

that you remember 

found the worst of you 
lives on in me - i must say 
i hate our blood ties 

i want to stare at 

your corpse that infected me 

- but it's rude to stare 




I can't decide on how to handle you there in front of me. 

You're analyzing my every word and my every movement. 

Dissecting, almost obsessing. 

I can see the data processing in your grin. 

Abusing my tired drunkenness for everything that it's worth. 

I'm aware that this isn't the motivated rambling of an intellectual. 

I am aware that these are the vapid words 

Fumbling from lips that only know feelings, not facts. 

And I just know that I can only watch 

Through the spaces between the fingers 

Of my hands in front of my face. 

I hear all of my words crashing 

Because of my mouth's faulty brakes. 

I can see you sitting there 

Reveling in my state of semi-consciousness, 

Wondering if I'll get any worse. 

Wondering if you get to witness it. 

You and I both know my words are only going to get me in trouble. 

You and I both know I'm handing you the keys to the demolition ball. 

Mark the red X on my pride. 

Its days are numbered, starting now. 

Starting at the point where my lips met yours. 

I moan, you laugh. 

Deep down, I know you care more about your cigarettes and your girl 

Then/than you do me. 

I'm sprawled across the carpet, uninspired, but on fire. 
My words still falling, but far less clearly now. 
I'm stumbling incoherence. 
My body shakes and it's good, but only till I come 
To my senses. 

When it's over you get your things to leave 
As you say goodbye you lean against the door-jamb. 
Six feet of unapologetic smugness; fiddling with your fingernails. 
Telling me not to be so hard on myself, 
I've been one of the most interesting wrecks you've created. 



How can you holy God love sinful me 

When my heart is wrecked with indecision, 

And my life anything but your vision? 

Your people dis' me for my heresy 

And yet you always call me family. 

Still, my wicked heart remains full of division 

Like a late night show on cable television 

And hardly like your son from Galilee. 

For I can hardly be called a deaconess, 

'cause I act more like a Texas redneck 

Who feels less at home in a church than a Chevrolet. 

But you love me through all my dirty grittiness 

And sometimes give me a needed body check 

So I'm back again on heaven's highway. 


i — 








"Dad, how big is God?" 

"You mean how big is he physically? That's difficult to 
say; I am not sure you could measure him like that." My son 
brushed his heroic surfer-length hair out of his eyes and pre- 
pared to reload another question. It was Sunday and we had 
just walked to the car. I could tell he had been paying atten- 
tion in Sunday School. His warm brown eyes lit up with the 

"Well, how about Jesus then, how tall was he?" 

"There are no photographs of him-big enough to be a 
carpenter. Scripture doesn't seem to say. They do hint that 
he was not remarkable in appearance. I'm not sure what that 

"Dad, Mom says you don't enjoy church any more, is that 
true?" So that was it. The general negative mood I was in had 
been connected to the source of the irritation by my clever 
ten-year-old son. 



"Well, the church part is OK. I enjoy worship. It's that so 
many of these folks think they have God all figured out. I'm 
not sure I do. We tend to be so quick to condemn people to 
hell when they are not just like we are. I have genuine trouble 
with that. I'm not sure you can put God in a box." 

"So, God is bigger than a bread box?" 

"Yeah, and that's my final answer." He seemed pleased; 
he smiled at his own joke. I remembered the verse about how 
you had to enter the kingdom as a child. My son was kingdom 
bound. I, on the other hand, was facing troubles related to 
how big God was. 

In Moby Dick, Ishmael tells us that whenever he feels 
"mean and spleenful" and "like knocking off people's hats" 
that he goes to sea. I have identified with feeling mean and 
spleenful for several years now. Though I have never been to 
sea, I know well how Ishmael felt. For several years a root of 
unhappiness has twisted itself around my soul until it begin to 
resemble the trunk of a cypress tree. One by one, the things 
that gave me joy ceased to be the sources of comfort that 
they once were. 

Work became a laundry list of thankless unpaid extra du- 
ties. The school board offered to pay us to tutor for the LEAP/ 
EXIT test after school, then reneged on the money and made 
us do it anyway. I was once again selected to be in charge 
of the prom and no one wanted to help. The new, young 
teachers refused to sponsor any clubs or student afterschool 
activities, so the old dependable teachers were called on to 
double up. Already overloaded, I tried once again to prove I 
was indispensable. In doing so, I ran out of gas at the junction 
of what-else-are-you-going-to do-for-us-street and lone-rang- 
er-avenue. Church became an ongoing squabble over what 
color carpet should be purchased, and people whining about 
their right to heard in the meeting. Committees fought over 


the pastor's job description. A genuine coup was pulled off 
in the youth department, and the more I went to church, the 
more my heart turned to stone. I could not believe that God, 
whatever his size, was pleased with us as a group. Everyone's 
favorite sport seemed to be sending others to hell. 

I found it difficult to unwind at home and even my sweet 
wife began to withdraw from the brooding Heathcliff I had be- 
come. I snapped at my family for no reason. I was often jumpy 
and on edge, which scared my son. 

"Do you remember what you did the last time you fell into 
one of these dark moods?" 

"Yeah, that was the year I went to California to school 
to learn to do stress management." I almost didn't finish the 
thought. I'd spent the summer in hypnotherapy school. Ironi- 
cally enough, that seemed to be the only activity I had been 
enjoying since I could focus totally on someone else. Only 
when I got to do hypnotherapy for someone did I feel like my 
old happy self. Some people have thought me odd for my 
pursuit of the unseen. My dad insists I'm hardwired that way. 
I once paid several thousand dollars to learn how to fire walk. 
I also took the additional class to be able to teach others. It's 
really not as hard as it looks. Remote viewing, which involves 
projecting an image with your mind to someone at a distance 
and having them draw what you are looking at, turns out to be 
totally bogus. So is Cave Breathing, at least for me This cave 
in Texas was reputed to have air that would cause religious 
visions if you stayed down in the heart of the cave at night. I 
did not have a vision. I got a sinus infection. My hypnotherapy 
studies, however, I had a real passion for. 

"You should work some of that hypnotic magic on your- 
self." My wife's comment sealed the proposition. I had to do 

I decided that what was needed was a hypnotherapy con- 
ference, where I could get some CEUs, upgrade my certificate 


and have some fun While surfing the net, I happened upon 
an advertisement of just such a training, to be held in upstate 
New York over the MLK holiday weekend. After an exchange 
of emails to other hypnotist friends, I found that about a 
half dozen of these were planning to attend. In addition, the 
conference was not just about hypnotherapy, but healing in 
general. It was to be an interfaith healing conference. That 
sounded like just what I needed. I was soon to learn how 
broadly the word interfaith* can be defined. 

The plane ride into the frozen beauty of upstate New York 
was uneventful. It proved once again that the coach section 
of an airplane is no place for a tall guy. The convention center 
was large and well appointed. When I arrived, the opening 
reception was in full swing. As I milled around and spoke to 
people, I realized how very eclectic this event was. Ethera 
Con Interfaith Healing Conference looked and felt very much 
like an odd cross between a Renaissance fair and Hogwarts 
School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even the Christians I met 
were of unusual types. There was a charismatic Catholic 
priest who did aura readings and claimed to be able to heal 
others with a set of "sacred tuning forks." There was another 
man whose last name was St. Clair who claimed to be a blood 
descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene a la the Da Vinci 
Code. He was a Gnostic Christian. Many others in this large 
gathering were polytheists, many of them witches. I had come 
among strange brethren. 

My Baptist alarm began to go off in my head. I heard old 
Sunday School teachers telling me what happened when a 
backslider Christian like me got involved with nonbelievers. I 
was in spiritual danger here according to everything I'd been 
taught. I wiped my palms on my jeans legs and tried to clear 
the large frog that had suddenly jumped into my throat. Verses 
about good kings of Israel being corrupted by worshiping 
idols made a list at the back of my skull. My counselor self 
helped me gather my courage and just decide to see what 
would happen. I did hope I would not run into anyone I knew 
from home. " Don't be a hater, Bob, these people are healers," 
I said several times to myself. As I practiced a little stress 
management breathing technique on myself, I began to feel 
better. I will admit that despite my initial concern, it did feel 

balancing not to be the weirdest person in the room. All of the 
participants were healers of some type. The efficacy of this 
healing I was soon to discover. 

The hypnotherapy training did not go exactly as planned, 
which turned out to be both good and bad. The clinical 
psychologist that I wanted so badly to study under did not 
appear. Instead, he sent his main student to teach us. We 
learned the technique that his mentor was famous for, and 
grouped up to practice. That afternoon, one of my hypnotist 
friends from our 1999 California training and I were chosen 
to be group leaders for additional practice. That evening, two 
unusual things happened. Our hypnosis teacher told me that I 
was the best hypnotist present. That made dinner taste good. 
The head of the conference asked me to fill in for a workshop 
instructor who had canceled at the last minute. "Do some of 
that marvelous trance you were doing upstairs." Empower- 
ment. She wanted empowerment trance for pagans. I smiled 
at the challenge despite myself. 

The presentation went like a dream. The large group was 
very responsive. I opened with my usual comments. 

"Don't worry, folks, this is not witchcraft." This brought 
cascades of laughter. Wintree, the woman who taught tea leaf 
reading, responded. "Don't hold back, show us your skill." 
And I did. Thirty minutes later, when we came back to room 
awareness, several asked to just be covered up and allowed 
to remain on the carpeted floor. Wintree spoke of feeling like 
"very happy Jell-O." I felt like a kid with a new bike. 

I was embraced and congratulated afterwards. Right 
there I was dubbed "the bayou wizard." It turns out that when 
you give a pagan "your energy," they give something in return. 
This was to become the most important part of my trip. 

My first gift was a hand-painted T-shirt from one of the 
vendors. Next, the aroma therapist examined me with what 
looked like a twisted coat hanger from the cleaners. She 


determined that I was "holding very old anger." She then 
sprayed me with several types of flower essence designed to 
help me release my anger. As odd as it may seem, I did feel 
better when she was finished. Next, I was taken to a Reiki 
Life Energy healing session by a group called the Daughters 
of Isis. Reiki is like having benign electricity flow through your 
body. It is based on the idea that all spiritual things are made 
of energy and that there is a well of the Universal Good which 
can be tapped by someone who can "see the source." The 
Reiki practitioner then channels this energy through their body 
and into the body of the recipient. I found it interesting that 
even masters of this craft cannot force you to take healing. 
You have to accept it. Reiki proponents insist that it is good 
for all kinds of pain, physical, emotional and spiritual. Though 
relatively new to the United States, Reiki is part of the catalog 
of Asian traditional medicine and has been for centuries. This 
process took about an hour, as they continually urged me to 
give up my anger. When I got up off the mat, nothing on my 
body hurt, a very singular occurrence. Things were taking an 
upward turn. 

The last full day of the conference was "wear your witch 
hat day." There were witch hats both classical and whimsical; 
some wore Viking helmets or horns, like Pan. Not owning a 
witch hat, I wore my Lakeview ball cap and got teased all day 
about worshiping gators. There were a few classes that morn- 
ing that I cut. I did not attend wand making because I was 
not sure I could do so without laughter. I passed on divination 
for the same reason. I was also asked to "partner" with sev- 
eral of the Daughters of Isis for their fertility ritual, but politely 
declined. However, nothing I had to this point experienced 
prepared me for the coming of the Vikings. 

Early in the afternoon, a young woman dressed as a 
Valkyrie ran up to me, bowed, and presented me with hand- 
written invitation to that evening's event— the Nordic Healing 
Circle. This, I had been told, was the highlight of the confer- 
ence. However, I had also been informed that this event was 
for master practitioners only. I inquired at the Viking area, and 
was granted a few minutes with the Winged Mistress. She 
looked at me and said, "Bayou Shaman, you have shown 
yourself a Master, but you must learn to ground lest the en- 

ergy harm you." Grounding, it turned out was meditative skill 
that one could learn. The young woman who brought me the 
invitation volunteered to teach me. It really consisted of me 
visualizing that I had roots growing out of my feet. After thirty 
minutes of practice, the young Viking woman was satisfied 
and withdrew inside the Viking enclosure. 

That evening about seventy people, many in ritual attire, 
gathered inside the grand salon. There were flowing gowns 
in very bright colors along with lots of leather, a few in kilts, 
and some who actually carried brooms. There were those 
who were painted like American Indians or Egyptians. I felt 
rather underdressed. A woman dressed as a panther kissed 
me on the cheek on her way by. Then a horn sounded and 
the Vikings, worshipers of Odin, marched into the hall, led 
by Helga, the Winged Mistress, looking like a Wagner opera 
star. I said a secret prayer that I would not mess up church for 
these sincere people. Helga lighted a vase full of incense and 
called on the spirits of reindeer and snow, and every deity I 
had ever head of, to be present. There, about number eleven 
on her list, was Jesus of Nazareth, called for my benefit. Very 
quickly, the very cold room became much warmer. Helga then 
asked for names and circumstances of those who were ill that 
needed healing. Everyone offered at least one name, like at 
prayer meeting. Then we joined hands and Helga called for 
the energy to be passed. I had been taught how to hand off 
the energy when it came to me, but was still not sure what 
would happen. Moments later the energy passed to me from 
the man on my left. I felt like I'd been struck by lightning, but 
leaned and passed it to the woman on my right who took the 
full hit. Then the energy was directed out through one of the 
Norse acolytes to the person that needed healing. Though 
there was an occasional break in the activity, the circle passed 
energy for about four hours. People sang, chanted, or grunted 
in various languages as we did higher levels for people with 
cancer and other fatal illnesses. I am sure that I was the only 
one there humming "There's Power in the Blood." It became 
tropically hot. I had removed my jacket and later my denim 
shirt, and before we were finished soaked my undershirt. 


When Helga thanked all of the unseen forces and they "left," 
it was suddenly cold again. When I got up from my chair and 
was embraced by those around me, the taproot of unhappy 
was gone. I do not have words for what happened nor do I 
have a label under which to file it. I had been healed by pagan 
Vikings. I am still better after returning to my own world. Faith 
or magic, I cannot make a call this time. I was taken in by 
strange brethren who loved a stranger enough to help find his 
way back home. After arriving back in my usual world I was 
not at all sure that anyone would believe what had happened 
to me. I felt a bit like Marco Polo when he was the only west- 
erner to see China. The thing I could not deny was the reality 
of how I felt. 

I caught my son working on his bike under the carport. 

"I stole this from Mom's refrigerator." 

"Sweet." I handed him the foaming orange soda that was 
his absolutely favorite drink. 

"Chief, I need to tell you something about the God being 
bigger than a bread box question you asked about a month 

"Did you look up the answer, Dad?" 

"No, I went and did research on the matter. It turns out 
that God is so big that some folks call him by different names. 
Our family will keep Jesus and hope he will keep us, but God 
turns out to be bigger than any one church or religious group. 
It's not our job to send anybody else to hell. We're just not go- 
ing to worry about that part. God has folks everywhere, even 
where you might not suspect." 

"Cool. Are there any chips?" 

And all is right with the world. 





-y I used to get my dress dirty 

^2 Sunday mornings before church in 

I — the gritty dirt, like cinnamon 

<C sprinkled on the white frills 

>- of a cupcake. With black 

<C under my fingernails, my mother 

would not be mad, my mother 

who had three girls that were usually dirty. 

Her worn hands were often black 

with potting soil as she would dig in 

the earth, planting rows of flowers, frills 

of color, from purple to yellow to cinnamon. 

I used to make a mess eating cinnamon 
toast, every morning, that my mother 
made, crumbs nestled in the frills 
of my Rainbow Brite nightgown, already dirty 
from the chocolate milk I spilled in 
between the leather couch cushions, a black 

streak leading to coins, crumbs and more black 
stains, along with the castaway grit of cinnamon. 
My sister and I used to swim in 
our mucky, brown pond while my mother 
would fish. All three of us smelly and dirty, 
my mom and sister in cutoffs, no frills 


for them, as I splashed in my striped suit with frills 
on the butt. We also used to play with our black 
cur in the hollow tree, where it was really dirty 
as we worked in a factory making cinnamon 
until my mother 
would tell us it was time to come in. 

I remember sitting in 
our kitchen in my pink birthday frills 
waiting for my mother 

to hand me the bowl with the remnants of black 
goo that I liked better than my cinnamon 
toast, and I would lick the bowl until it was clean and I was 

My mother's hands are often still in soil and black, 

And most of my frills are still filled with grit like cinnamon, 

For there are many things that are worth getting dirty. 









One black tablet is swallowed tonight. 

It is bitter and hard as it sinks down. 

The lungs cannot breathe, 

The legs cannot stand, 

One black tablet, 

What you do to men, 

And women who suffer from lack of color. 

Too bad there is only one more tomorrow, 

That never comes. 

One black tablet is written in tonight. 

It rescues the pained, and takes them to flight. 

The fear goes away, a burden is lifted. 

One black tablet desires a reading. 

Each tablet of white, 

But the yin is without the yang. 

No need to explain, 

The importance of balance. 



i licked that mother-fucking toad 

and sucked down the lactaid from tit 

with toes in clay so red & raw 

and tongue like a butterfly net 

catching twinkle-sun rays 

i swallow harder. 

taking lightning bug gulps 

into my mason jar stomach 

with holes punched in it, 

the sunlight syrup swirled 

with milk in a Nesquik concoction. 

that rushes as quick as Colorado rapids 

carving out cavernous veins 

as that plasmic hit bounced blood vessels 

like beach balls red & raw 

alighting on the surf 

of my subconscious: 

that beyond of placid waters deep 

where eyes swim in aqueous humor 

rich as whetted clay & 

taste as comical as a knock knock. 

i answer the door only to hear 

butterfly lisps from a school girl mouth 

stained by an empty chocolate milk carton 

she whispered: you glow 

bugs battered broken wings that 

whistled cacophonous cadences in response 

and my eardrums exploded in a waterfall rush 

falling into pinnae puddles 

where my tympanic membranes served as boats. 

i floated until mourning's light butler 

brought breakfast to me in a death-bed 

where I lay, ajar with no holes in it. 



"Shit, I don't even know where to start," said Trey Cormier. 

"Start with your friend." 

"Whadya wanna know?" 


"Well he was my ol' buddy from high school, but I ain't 
seen him in a while, so when I heard he got back into town, I 
went picked him up at his momma's trailer. He was over there 
in l-raq, ya know. Been three years in the Marines, and hadn't 
came home once to visit, so I's dyin' to see him. Me and 
Patrick used to raise hell all over Sabine Parish— ya know, not 
like breakin' any laws or nothin'. Just. . .ya know. 

"Anyway, I pulled up there in ma truck and I seen him 
sittin' out front scratchin' on his dog, smokin' him a ciga- 
rette, and I say, 'Hey boy, you tellin' me that's the best-lookin' 
woman you could find in l-raq?' Talkin' 'bout his dog, ya 
know. But he didn't say nothin'. Ain't even laughed. I had to 
call at him again, make sure he heard right, and he just looks 
up and me and says, 'How's it goin', Trey?' I say, 'It'll be goin' 
better when you come get in this here truck and we get some 
fuckin' beer in us!' That's about when I noticed he looked a 
little different than I remember him. And I ain't talkin' about the 
shaved head, neither. He just got up, kinda slow, and walked 
on over like he didn't care if he ever went drank a beer with 
the guy that used to be his best buddy. 

ARGUS first place fiction 

"I kinda didn't know what to say to him, so I just kept 
talkin' 'bout his dog. Said somethin' like, 'nice dog,' or what- 
ever. I don't remember. And you know the first thing he says 
to me after we ain't talked for upwards of three years? Starts 
tellin' me 'bout how whenever they seen a dog over in l-raq, 
they shoot it or throw it off a cliff or somethin' — even pup- 
pies— 'cause all the dogs there got rabies, and the ones that 
don't, gonna get it eventually, so they just kill 'em all. What 
the fuck am I s'posed to say 'bout that? So we just didn't talk 
'til we got to the Conoco. And Patrick just sat there with his 
hands on his lap, lookin' out the winda like he never seen pine 
trees before or somethin'." 

The Sheriff cut him off. "On second thought, why don't 
you skip a little bit of the beginning and get to where y'all 
went to see, uh. . ." he checked the folder in front of him, 
"Porter Mclnnis." 

"Well that's where I start to blame yer department for 
shortcomin's leadin' up to the event." 

"My department?" the Sheriff huffed. 

"That's right. Me and Patrick was sittin' in the parkin' lot 
down at the Conoco, finishin' off a case of Keystone Light 
when yer ol' deputy pulls up and tells us we got to go, there 
ain't no litterin' in the parkin' lot of the Conoco. I tried to tell 
him we wasn't litterin', and he kept sayin' we was. Then I said 
how I cain't believe he's gon' make an American hero leave 
the Conoco on false charges, when this man went and fought 
for him so he could be free, but that ol' deputy didn't care. So 
he made us leave, and if he hadn't-a done that, nothin' ever 
woulda happened, but he did. And I wasn't drunk or nothin', 
cause my blood ain't like other people's, where they drink a 
few beers and get that blood-alcohol level where they cain't 
drive. I can drink a whole case maself and my blood just 
manufactures it up so I hardly even feel it, and I just had a 
half-a-case anyway. 

"So we headed on out. By then, there wasn't nowhere to 
go, and I was thinkin' of takin' Patrick back to his momma's 
trailer 'cause I couldn't get more'n a sentence or two outta 

him, and that wasn't like him one bit. But when we got back 
in the truck, he started tellin' me how he didn't appreciate all 
that back there, me callin' him a hero and everything. So I say, 
'Well, would you rather me call you an asshole?' And he says, 
'Call me what you want.' Then I say, 'I'll call ya Corporal Ass- 
hole,' ya know, tryin' to rile him up like when we used to hang 
out, but he didn't even care. He says, 'I ain't a corporal.' I 
asked then what was he, and he said he wasn't nothin'. Come 
to find out, the reason he was home is the Marines gave him a 
dishonor'ble discharge 'cause they caught him smokin' weed 
in l-raq. Even had to do ninety days in the brig— that's what 
they call jail in the Marines. He hadn't done nothin' wrong but 
smoke a little weed, either. He was cap'n of his own squad 
and everything. 

"Now before I say this next part, I gotta take this time and 
plead my fifth amendment rights, so you cain't arrest me for 
what I'm 'bout to say, OK?" 

"Go on, son." 

"Alright. So I took this news pretty heavy and all, 'cause I 
know Patrick's a good ol' boy and a damn good Marine, and 
it ain't fair for them to treat him like that. I felt like I needed 
another beer, but I didn't have no more so I started to pull out 
this blunt I had wrapped up earlier, then I thought, 'Trey, don't 
try pullin' that blunt in front of Patrick. That's the thing that 
got him in trouble in the first place.' So I decided to head on 
down to Porter's house way the fuck out in the woods 'cause 
I knew he had somethin' for me, and he used to be real close 
to Patrick, too, but not as close as me and Patrick and not as 
close as me and Porter." 

"What did he have for you?" 

Trey shifted in his seat. "C'mon, main, ya know what I'm 
talkin' 'bout. Don't make me hafta say it." He leaned in close 
and whispered, "Porter cooks that ice. 


Ts feelin' real bad, like I said, and I needed somethin' 
to relax ma nerves. So we went all the way back there, past 
Zwolle and down the gravel road after ya pass up the high 
school— that's where Porter lives with his girlfriend, Carla. 
I hate that bitch, but she went to high school with us, too, 
and if I want stuff from Porter, I gotta pretend to like her even 
though she's always been a bitch to me. 

"'Course, Patrick knew where we was headin' and he said 
he didn't do that no more, and he said he seen a counselor 
and shit and they told him to avoid his 'enablers,' whatever 
the fuck that is, but I was hard up for somethin' to relax ma 
mind so I took him anyway. 

"When we pulled up, they had an ol' dog in the front 
yard — a deaf-ass cur dog with fucked-up eyes that wasn't 
even the same color, and it came at us hard as soon as we 
stepped out the truck. I's afraid Patrick was gonna kill it just 
outta instinct, bein' with them rabies dogs so long, but he just 
petted it and it was lickin' his fingers like it smelled somethin' 

"And I guess ma truck made a commotion, 'cause Por- 
ter come outta the house with his AK-47 on his chest. Now I 
about shit maself when I seen that 'cause I thought for sure 
Patrick was gonna start havin' some of them flashbacks and 
go apeshit and kill Porter with his bare hands right then and 
there, but he was just calm as a cucumber. Porter's fuckin' 
paranoid about the cops comin' to his house 'cause of his lab 
and all, and he mighta shot Patrick with that haircut lookin' 
like a cop except I was there and he recognized me, then he 
recognized Patrick and he was happy as hell to see him after 
so long. 

"We all went inside and the dog went in there with us. His 
name was Magoo, by the way, and I only tell ya that because 
I told ya Carla's name and I like that dog a lot better'n I like 
her. Anyway, soon I walked through the door I could smell he 
was cookin' shit— just nothin' but chemicals hittin' ya right in 
the nose. Takes a while to get where you can breathe normal 
in there. Porter said he didn't have nothin' for me on hand, 

but he was cookin' up some fresh ice and if we'd wait a few 
hours, he was almost done. Patrick went to open a winda 
to get rid of some of the smell, but Porter made him close it 
back 'cause he said if the neighbors smelled it they'd call the 
cops. He don't have any neighbors within half a mile, but that 
boy's so damn paranoid ya can't tell him anything that makes 

"Then Carla lit up a blunt and started passin' it around. I 
couldn't believe that shit. Ya got chemicals cookin' right there 
on the hot plate and yer gonna light a damn blunt? I looked 
over at Patrick to see if he was 'bout to go ballistic on her, but 
he ain't said shit, and when the blunt made it around to him, 
he just passed it straight to me without even hittin' it. So I said 
fuck it, if yer gonna light shit up regardless, I might as well get 
high while I'm waitin'. 

"Porter took a break from his hot plate to show Patrick 
his AK-47 that he got off some guy down on Texas Street, so 
it ended up bein' just me and Carla smokin'. We was both 
suckin' as hard as we could 'cause we hate each other and 
we both wanted to smoke more of the blunt just to be an 
asshole, or a bitch in her case. Whenever company comes 
over, she don't even acknowledge 'em even if she knows 'em, 
like me and Patrick. She didn't even say hi to Patrick despite 
the fact he'd been gone upwards of three years, and she sure 
didn't say nothin' to me, 'cause I'm there all the damn time. If 
she got somethin' to say and yer three feet from her, she says 
it to Porter and Porter says it to ya. Shit, even Magoo don't 
wanna sit by her. 

"I looked over at Patrick runnin' his hands across that AK- 
47 like it was a woman's leg, and he told Porter it was a good 
gun even though he got it from a guy on Texas Street. It felt 
kinda crazy lookin' at a guy you known since you was a little 
kid, and played with him and did all kinds of shit growin' up, 
and now yer starin' a man who's killed people and had people 
try to kill him, meanwhile you just been waitin' for ice back in 
Sabine Parish. 


"Patrick asked him if he could take it outside and shoot 
it at the pine trees, but Porter was hard set against it. Said 
it would cause a racket. So we just sat around passin' the 
blunt a while, skippin' over Patrick, who was sittin' with the 
gun between his legs aimed up at the ceilin', lookin' down 
the barrel. He had a face like he was at a funeral, and Porter 
musta seen it, too, 'cause after a little while, he says, 'I guess 
you can shoot it if you go out back and aim into the woods.' 
Ya didn't have to tell Patrick twice, 'cause he was out the door 
before Carla could start bitchin' to Porter 'bout how the gun 
might attract attention and shit. I thought I might join him, but 
the idear of Carla suckin' down that blunt by herself was just 
too much to bear. 

"The rest is a blur. I remember hearin' shots comin' from 
out back, but real slow. Like he'd shoot once, and wait a good 
long time before he shot again. A good long time. And I re- 
member Porter jumpin' up at some point and sayin' shit about 
some red phosphus or whatnot. I don't know what he was 
talkin' 'bout. Him and Patrick were always the smart ones. I 
was never too good at school. And Carla was always just a 

"But anyway, I remember those shots— pow . . . pow . . 
. pow— and Porter fiddlin' with his hot plate. And I wouldn't 
even say it was an explosion. More like the air just all of a 
sudden caught on fire, without makin' even a sound. I fell 
out my chair and I closed my eyes, and it was just like a 
wave of heat passed over me, like if ya have a sunburn and 
ya just turn on the shower. Then I heard Magoo barkin' and 
then some glass was breakin'. All the glass in the trailer just 
started to pop. Everyone was screamin', carryin' on, but I just 
couldn't get my breath. I didn't want no ice no more. Tell ya 
what, I never been to Hell, but I imagine if I went, it'd be every 
bit as hot as that trailer. 

"I figured then and there I was gonna die. It almost didn't 
make no difference, either. Ya know how yer life's s'posed to 
flash before yer eyes and shit? Well mine took it about three 
seconds, and all I saw was fuckin' Zwolle, Louisiana, gettin' 
drunk and gettin' high. I started chokin' on the smoke, and 

still I was thinkin', 'Damn, Carla, shut the fuck up already,' 
'cause she was hollerin' so much I thought Magoo coulda 
heard her. Next thing I know, air starts rushin' in the door like 
it got sucked through, and there's a fireman standin' over me 
with an axe. Then I realize that ain't no fireman, that's Patrick 
with the AK-47. He grabs me under the armpits and starts 
draggin' me out, thumpin' down the steps, then he hauls me 
across the gravel all the way to the truck. It hurt like a sum- 
bitch, but I wasn't complainin'. 

"Before I could say thank ya, he disappeared back in 
there, and a minute later he comes out with Porter on his 
shoulder. And Porter ain't whatcha call little. He probably got 
forty pounds on Patrick, but Patrick threw him down by me 
like a suitcase. 

"Next, he come out with Carla, still hollerin' and coughin'. 
She wasn't two seconds out of that trailer before she was 
bitchin' at Porter for that red phosphus-whatever. Patrick 
looked down at me, and I seen somethin' I hadn't seen since 
that night before he took off for the Marines, and we was get- 
tin' shit-faced for the last time on the roof of a school bus. He 
got that look right before he says to me, 'Wanna check if it's 
unlocked?' By mornin' that bus was fourteen feet below the 
highway in a ravine— and remember, I pleaded the fifth, so 
you cain't use that story against me. But I saw it. He bent over 
me and he says, 'I'm goin' after the dog.' I remember thinkin', 
shit, why didn't he get ol' Magoo before he got Carla? And I 
was just laughin' to myself, glad I was outta there. 

"When yer lyin' on the ground way away from where shit's 
on fire or whatever, it's actually kinda cool, just watchin' the 
trailer go down bit by bit. It ain't hot or smoky, so you can just 
sit back, no worries. I guess it took a while for it to dawn on 
me that he wasn't gon' come back out. By then everything 
was on fire. Every winda, even the roof. It kinda melted in on 
itself, and then it was just like an ol' skeleton somebody set to 


"I was lookin' hard by then, knowin' he was gone, but I 
didn't feel sad even though he was my best buddy for a long 
time. Porter and Carla were arguin' 'bout some shit that don't 
matter, but I wasn't payin' attention. I was wonderin' what 
he saw. Ya know, what flashed in front of him when he was 
holdin' that dog and he realized he wasn't never cormin' out 
again. It prolly took a while, considerin' how many places he'd 
been to. It's crazy, how you can have two people grow up the 
same exact place and do all the same shit together, but give 
'em three years apart, and they got a lifetime of different shit 
to talk about. Ya know?" 

Trey sniffed. 

The Sheriff clicked the stop button on his tape recorder 
and leaned back in his chair. He collected his folder of papers 

"You ain't gonna charge me, are ya, Sheriff?" Trey asked. 

"Son, I think you can go home. 'Fraid I can't say the same 
for your friend, Porter." 

"That's alright." Trey rose to his feet. "I think mebbe you 
cain't say that 'bout me, neither." He slipped through the in- 
terrogation room door, then out into the night, where the scent 
of pine was at once familiar and very strange. 


Down the dirty Paris street I stumbled, 

drunk for the second, no third, time in my life, 

searching for the bar two bars ago where I left my jacket. 

Lost with a liquor-drenched mind, I laughed at every wrong turn. 

I was drunk for the third time in my life 

in the city of lights that disappointed me upon first glance 

until I was lost on a culture-drenched street and took every wrong turn, 

only to find my vest as well as a friend 

in the city of lights that suited me well after a second look. 
In its rough edges and blunt busyness, 
I found excitement as well as a friend. 
Tucked-away charm and profound treasures abound 

among its rough edges and blunt busyness. 

Crowded and old, sometimes smelly, it brought truth to a dream or two 

with all of its charm and profound treasures, 

just like every other big city, and yet so very different. 

Crowded and old, mostly smelly, it gave me a dream or two 

as I stumbled down the dirty Paris street, 

seeing every other big city, all so very different, 

and searching for places upon places to leave part of myself. 




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from "A Lesson In Flight" 

No one ever told me that I had to walk down that hallway 
everyday. No one ever told me what to say, or how to react to 
all of them. They hurtled words at me that I didn't understand, 
but I knew exactly what they meant. I should have been 
appalled that I, a sixth grader, did not have the same under- 
standing of what was good and what was bad that my peers 
seemed to have. Perhaps I should have been thankful that 
they meant to show me the right way to dress and act, and 
the right things to say. How silly of me. 

The classes for my grade were divided into two hallways that 
met at a ninety-degree angle. The worn linoleum tiles shouted 
up the regrets of thousands of students that had traversed 
them. It was an old school, and the antiquity of its methods 
and materials showed through the thinning veneer of 1996. 
I loved my school. It was a wonderland of books and art, in 
stark contrast to my home, which was dark, dusty, and ugly. 

The students that arrived to school by bus usually got there 
early. We were expected by the administration to sit next to 
our respective classes in those ninety-degree hallways until 
our teachers arrived. This created two long torturous path- 
ways, lined with anxious students. The path was just wide 
enough for a single person to walk down and find a seat on 
the wall. If you arrived early, you could avoid most of the stu- 
dents, have your seat, and wait peacefully. 
If you arrived later, you had the joy of greeting all of your 
friends on the path. 

If you arrived after that, and if you were me, you were treated 
to an agonizing journey. 


My family was grasping for money in every direction. We had 
nothing, aside from the house we slept in, and an occasional 
box of groceries from the church. Our budget didn't leave 
much room for clothing. My overprotective mother would still 
pick which clothes I would wear to school. It seemed odd to 
me then — I longed to take care of myself. It seems more odd 
now, looking back. Without the money for the things I wanted 
to wear, I was left at the mercy of whatever was available, 
which included hand-me-downs from church friends, school 
friends, and my own mother. I would sometimes be doomed 
to wear a giant, stretched out T-shirt and biker shorts because 
it was all we had. Clothing that didn't fit, things that were 
too large, too tight, strange colors— these were not exactly 
welcomed by the hallway of agony. The students laughed, 
pointed, giggled, became angry, or almost always silent... and 
none of them knew a thing about me. I endured this assault 
on my family, my status, and my confidence every single day 
of school for the entire year. 

I didn't know what gay meant in 1996. I knew that I would 
have the occasional crush on a fellow student, and that 
most of the time that student would be another boy. I had 
known that since kindergarten. I didn't really know what that 
meant for everyone else. I kept it to myself —what was there 
to explain? However, it seemed that most kids my age had 
already received an extensive education on the subject, and 
made sure to point out a "potential" whenever appropriate. 
It seemed to be appropriate whenever— especially during my 
walks to class at 7:45 a.m. down a silent, pregnant hallway. 

It's a good thing that most sixth graders are resilient. It's un- 
fortunate that I wasn't. 






Come, walk at my side. 

Leave behind these deadline-driven hours. 

The late-night grinding tedium of your studies 

I shall swab from your mind like chalk-dust. 

Lay aside your umbrella; 

The September rain shall not harm us. 

Its frail winds strain to stroke our faces 

That survey the drenched cityscape smeared 

As a ruined charcoal sketch in blurred grey tones. 

Rain, like someone's downcast love story, 

Spills from gutters onto blacktop. 

Strikes the sentry-like streetlamps. 

At my side, you in your soaked shirt. 

Leaning against the cool wrought iron post 

Of a shop's overhanging. 


Your gaze drawn beyond sloshing cars. 

Dare I intrude? 

Farther we might proceed 

Until the city recedes behind us. 

A dim, violet dusk. 

Blue streaks of clouds etched into the west. 

Ancient oaks stand silhouetted darkly 

Against an expanse fragranced with damp soil and 

Beneath which 

Lie those entwined in massive roots. 
Forgotten. Indistinguishable 
From the earth surrounding. 
Animate before acorns became these trees, 


One wonders where they found themselves. 

And do you remain? 

I reach skyward to a void of dark mystery 

Whose myriad fragments of stellar inferno 

Beg the question, Why? 

For those which ended distanced 

From us by light years, dead trails of brightness 

Trace paths to where they once burned. 

All of it tragic and sublime 

As humanity's flicker. 

Observe this handful of grass, 

Your own hands, these details. 

Your frailty realized, 

Perceive the vast ingenuity of this cosmos 

And the unembodied mind from whence it came, 

Self-contained and beautifully ineffable. 

O Love that conceives all love 

(Wherein all loves terminate) 

Be my own demise, 

As I accept no other end. 

As for you, earthen masterwork, 

These thoughts of mine are yours to keep or to kill, 

All things worthwhile are yours. 




My heart breaks into the million little strips of confetti adorning a 
party I was invited to, but not welcome at, as I stand in the corner 
watching you watching me and thinking to myself what a delightful 
time we once had dancing across the floor of the room that divides 
us, how delightful the feel of your body and breasts against me 
with nothing but confetti between our whispers and laughter and 
all those moments that we shared. 

But now that confetti bursts, like Stardust from the celestial and/or 
heavens, I know not which, and it's as if everything comes and 
goes, moving with such determinate slowness that I could so eas- 
ily step between those pieces of myself to reach out and touch 
you, to take your hand and run away from this floor upon which 
we once danced, but your eyes and smile, I know not which, tell 
me that is not what you want, and pop goes my heart, pop goes 
those memories, pop goes everything, God damn it, that once was 
or ever could be of all that we shared, as those bodies between 
us now swirl and spin, laughing now as they dance, oblivious to 
everything that once was or ever could be but now is not, for I no 
longer dance and my steps have retraced themselves with a little 
jig and indeterminate shuffle to forget that dance we once danced 
so long ago it seems almost as if it did not happen except for the 
resounding broken blasts of collected confetti here and there as 
if timed to a metric scale which you could dance to, those strips 
strewn across the dance floor, as the smile and laughter fade from 
off my heart, my visage, my very soul and pop goes the leaves and 
the twigs and the berries of Arkansas underneath my sole as I grab 
the coat I once took off so you could wear it when you were cold 
as I exit with that indeterminate shuffle of mine for some means 
of escaping the falling stars of the celestial body within the rav- 
ages of time, temptation and touch as those still dancing rush to 
the window, laughing and commenting on how beautiful the falling 
stars are, not knowing how they glisten and twinkle like strips of 
confetti inside the room, adorning the party I was invited to but not 
welcome at. 



Not dead. Oh no. They cannot be. yj 

Thin, elusive, silver vapors > 

Rose from the half-written note page Q^ 

And made their way to a coffee- <( 

Drenched brain half-focused on them. ^ 

Those scaly mist creatures at once n ' 

Demanded to be set free to < ^ 

Burn their marks on the half-blank sheet , x 

That stared back at two, brown, droopy, _ 

Half-closed, sloppily painted lids. ^? 

"Let them go" was not an option. LU 

Holding on also proved futile. ~ > 

The half-real beasts vanished back through 

The caffeine gate from which they came. 






Faces smashed intolerably close to one another 

in an interlocking exchange 

make the fizzle of pop-rocks shoot through taste buds 

like the sun rays through crystal that smells 

like burnt popcorn (or battery acid) 

In the darkness while faces fade forward 

watching lights dance strong and twinkling 

goosepimples run across flesh, barely glazed 

as thoughts flee to dilated egg-timers twitching and 

bodies adapted in turnstyle rotations 
meld in & out, in & out of one another 

ml ' jdftAj& r 4(? •■ 






Setting: A graveyard at sunrise, an empty plot is surrounded 
by gravestones. 

At Rise: silence hangs heavy in the air. A lone bird chirps. 
Mary enters; she is dressed in black and carrying a single rose. 
She crosses to the empty plot, kneels before it, and places the 
rose on top of the earth. 


God of spirits and of all flesh, who hast trampled down death 
and overthrown the Devil, given life to Thy world; give rest to 
the souls of Thy departed servants in a place of brightness... 
a place of refreshment, a place of repose, where all sickness 
and sorrow have fled away. Pardon every transgression which 
they have committed. For Thou art a good God and lovest 

(Lenny enters.) 


Thy righteousness is to all eternity, and Thy word is truth. 

(Silence. Mary rises and begins to leave.) 




Amen. You, um, you left out the best part. 

Mary (Her back is still turned to Lenny) 

Excuse me? 


For Thou only art without sin, because there is no man who 
lives yet does not sin. Maybe it's not the best part, but it's the 


How are you, kiddo? 


Oh my God... I, um, I'm fine— I guess. What, what are you 
doing here? 


I could ask the same of you. I, ah, enjoyed the prayer. I 
haven't heard it since YaYa passed. Seems a little strange to 
mourn the living, though. 


If you acted like the living I wouldn't have to mourn you. 


Come home. 


You look... good, black isn't really your color, though. I al- 
most left when I saw you here, but — 


Why are you here? Shouldn't you be... doing whatever it is 
you do now? 


Yeah, I probably should, but... well, sometimes I come here 
to... think. 


Think about what? 



Think about what, Lenny? Talk to me. I... I want to help you. 




Why can't I help? This isn't fair. You're not supposed to be 
dead. You're not dead. Do you have any idea what this is do- 
ing to Mom? Has that thought even crossed your mind? You 
didn't see her when they came, when that clerk came to the 
door with the letter. Killed in action, he said. We thank you for 
you son's valiant sacrifice in the service of his country. She 
cried all night... we all did. 




I'm... sorry. 


No, you're not. You might be a lot of things, Leonard, but 
you're not sorry. You can't be. If you were sorry you would 
get in the car right now and come home with me. 


I said I can't.... 


Why not!? You're a miracle, Leonard. You were dead, and 
then you came back to life. Don't waste it. 


Waste it? If there's anything I do know about it's wasted life. 
You don't understand. You can't. You haven't seen it, lived it. 
You weren't over there! You have no idea what it's like to be 
touched by death. How it invades you; sickens your soul. 


Tell me then, talk to me, talk to somebody. Make me under- 
stand; we want you back. Please. You're not alone, Leonard. 



We are all alone. 



When did you get so selfish? This is not my brother. My 

brother would do anything for his family. My brother would— 


That's not who I am anymore. 


Who are you then? 


I... I don't know. I know who I'm not. I'm not who I used 
to be... It changes you. No one asked me! This isn't what I 
wanted! I was ready. I made my peace. Four days I laid there 
bleeding in the desert— begging Him to take me— to embrace 
me in His loving arms and carry me home. He just spit me 
back out into this hell... I remember pain, pain beyond be- 
lief... pain that would never end. Then came the screaming, 
me... the doctors... the nurses— everyone screaming. 


Lazarus phenomenon, they called it. Not miracle. There's no 
such thing as miracles, just scientific phenomena. I'm not a 
normal person anymore, Mare. I will never be a normal per- 
son again. I can't be. 


When did you get so selfish? This is a gift from God, Lenny. 
He chose you. He could have picked anyone, but he didn't. 
He picked you. You're special. 


No, I'm not. I'm ruined. You should go. 



For God's sake, Lenny, stop this! 


You don't understand, Mary. There is no God. I hate to break 
the news to you, kiddo, but... I was there. No light, no angels, 
no pearly gates, no Saint fucking Peter, and certainly no God. 
Just blackness, empty darkness ringing with silence. You 
can't know what— 


Stop It! Stop saying that. You're the one who doesn't know! 
The worst part was when they came back. Wonderful news, 
he said. Your brother isn't dead. Sorry for your grief, but 
we're sending him back... We were going to have a party for 
you, with the whole family, a joyous festival for our Lazarus. 


It was a miracle. 


Then you never came. She crumbled a little each day waiting. 
Three years now and she's still waiting, you know... we, well, 
we all are. 


I don't think you should come here anymore. 


No, I don't think you should come here anymore. 


Leave me alone. 


I can't... Come with me. 





Lenny (softly) 


(Lenny shakes his head and exits slowly Mary begins to cry. 
She slowly returns to the grave site and kneels again.) 


O God bless Thy servant. For Thou are the Resurrection, the 
Life, and the Repose of Thy servants who have fallen asleep, 

Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together 
with Thy Father, who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, 
good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever unto ages of 

(She begins to exit, but pauses.) 


1 love you, big brother. Come home to us. Amen. 
(Exit Mary A crow is heard in the distance. Lights out.) 







Where frailty lives with dignity 
In prison cells devoid of light 
The highest of humanity 

Recall a time when they were free. 
Imagination takes its flight 
Where frailty lives with dignity. 

To minds constrained by tyranny 
Belief is still a sacred right. 
The highest of humanity 

Can grasp this concept more than we. 
In chambers hidden from our sight 
Where frailty lives with dignity 

Their prayers become a symphony 
They sing for their oncoming night. 
The highest of humanity 

In wretchedness and agony 
Longsuffering and strength unite 
Where frailty lives with dignity: 
The highest of humanity. 


The Arts and Science Building 

Too cold or too hot, never just right 

Smelled like an old sweat sock 

Kept in a closed locker 

He stood carelessly, rail thin 

Jeans like old blue paint 

Sandals even in winter 

Hair in a loose ponytail 

Walrus facial hair, untamed 

(Mom, at least it's clean) 

Young heart, young legs 

And Atticus Finch Dreams 

Dreams of being real 

Kyser Hall once again 

Too hot, too cold, never just right 

Smells like an old sweat sock 

Kept in a closed locker 

He stands on teacher tired feet 

Despite the soft walking shoes 

Elastic waist slacks 

That he swore he'd never wear 

Silvering hair, bared close to the face 



(Honey it's too gray if I wear it longer) tq 


Bruised heart, bruised legs !~~ 

Teacher of the Year Dreams ^ 

Dreams of being real ^~ 







With yellowed, brittle pages and its broken spine 
Saturated with must and the stale scent of neglect, 
The shelved book rests fulfilling stages of decline. 
Thickly coated with dust that took years to collect. 
Characters that once danced through readers' minds 
In quaint little towns surrounded by green lands 
Are now quite immobile, statically enshrined 
Inhabiting desolate cities where time is banned 
Its home a used bookstore, its value diminished 
Dishonors the first owner that saved until owned. 
Its plot no longer valid and characters finished 
But never to its author that labored until honed. 
Words that once inspired, interested, and intrigued 
Lie on the pages forgotten, fragile, and fatigued. 


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